A bid from San Francisco-based Boutique Air has been endorsed by Prescott, Arizona city officials to replace air services lost at Prescott Municipal Airport (PRC) when Cheyenne, Wyoming regional Great Lakes Airlines abruptly ceased operations last month.

Boutique was one of three carriers to submit bids to replace Great Lakes as Prescott’s Essential Air Service (EAS) carrier. All three carriers are Part 135 operators. 

Boutique proposed 4X-daily frequencies to Los Angeles International (LAX) and 2X-daily service to Phoenix Sky Harbor (PHX) using nine-seat Pilatus PC-12s. Boutique also has an interline agreement with Chicago-based United Airlines—one of the factors that put its bid above competitors Advance Air and Mokulele Airlines, Prescott officials wrote in a letter to the US Department of Transportation (DOT).

DOT and Prescott officials were forced to scramble when Great Lakes shut down last month with little warning. DOT said Great Lakes sent the department an email late March 26 stating, “All revenue flying is ending tonight.” The department then put out a call for emergency replacement services, including an option for “interim” service. Prescott officials have recommended a one-year term for Boutique; the carrier proposed a two-year term.

DOT regulations require twin-engine aircraft for EAS operations outside of Alaska. Prescott will ask for a waiver for Boutique’s single-engine PC-12s. Boutique will operate the aircraft with two pilots.

San Francisco-based Boutique serves 17 EAS communities and 30 airports, including LAX and PHX. Its presence at the two hubs means it could be being up and running at PRC within six weeks if it wins the contract.

Meanwhile, Prescott continues to eye service from larger carriers. It has scheduled security and baggage-handling upgrades as well as airfield work this year as part of its plan to attract an airline operating larger aircraft. City officials believe that the quick turnaround required to replace Great Lakes put many mainline airline partners at a disadvantage. “In conversations with air carrier prospects, we have discovered that they are currently scheduling at least 8-10 months out,” the city told DOT. “Due to the short response period … several air carrier prospects are thus unable to submit a proposal to offer PRC ‘replacement service’ at this time.”

Great Lakes was contracted to use 30-seat Embraer EMB-120s.

Sean Broderick, sean.broderick@informa.com