Great Lakes Aviation may leave Farmington

City manager: Grant-funded improvements at the airport will not be impacted by Great Lakes' decision

Hannah Grover
Farmington Daily Times
A Great Lakes Aviation airplane takes off for Denver on May 18 at the Four Corners Regional Airport in Farmington in this file photo.
  • Great Lakes may end flights to and from Farmington starting in November
  • Changes in regulations in 2013 created challenges.

FARMINGTON — Great Lakes Aviation is considering ending flights in and out of the Four Corners Regional Airport in November, according to a Mayor's Table video released this morning.

Great Lakes is the sole provider of commercial air service at the Four Corners Regional Airport.

In a text message this afternoon, City Manager Rob Mayes said the city received a preliminary report from Great Lakes Aviation a few weeks ago indicating the airline was considering ending flights to non–subsidized airports like Four Corners Regional Airport. He said the city immediately hired a consultant that specializes in helping small communities find non-taxpayer subsidized services.

MORE:Great Lakes Airlines adds flights to, from L.A.

"Farmington has never used taxpayer dollars to pay an airline to fly here like many communities have needed to do," Mayes said.

In the video, Mayes said Farmington has not historically qualified for federal subsidies.

Mayes said in a text message that Great Lakes' decision will not impact grant-funded improvements that have been planned for the airport.

In the video, Mayor Tommy Roberts and Mayes said changes in Federal Aviation Administration regulations in 2013 made created a pilot shortage. According to the video, it became unprofitable for Great Lakes to fly out of Farmington due to regulations that made it so the airline could only sell nine seats on the 19-seat airplanes.

In 2013, more than 15,660 passengers boarded Great Lakes planes in Farmington, according to city documents. That dropped to 5,819 passengers in 2014 and last year only 1,437 people boarded Great Lakes planes in Farmington. This year has seen an increase in passengers. Between January and September, 2,890 people boarded planes in Farmington.

MORE:Federal grant awarded to rehabilitate runway in Shiprock

Roberts and Mayes said the city is in discussions with Great Lakes to keep commercial flights.

While Great Lakes Aviation may no longer be flying in and out of Farmington soon, the airport continues to have a strong general aviation service. Atlantic and Vernon Aviation provide charter flights and several private pilots fly out of Farmington.

Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652.