Press-Republican

Local News

December 19, 2007

Plattsburgh airline pulling out

PLATTSBURGH — Big Sky Airlines, the much-maligned airline operating out of Plattsburgh International Airport the past seven weeks, is pulling out of the northeast.

According to news reports posted late this afternoon, Big Sky will cease its northeast operations at midnight on Jan. 7, 2008.

“Our eastern operations were dramatically affected by a combination of unusually bad weather, disappointing revenue and record-high fuel prices,” Fred deLeeuw, president of Big Sky said in a statement.

“We have great people who have worked extraordinarily hard, but that factor could not overcome the challenges we faced, and we no longer believe that we can reach sustained profitability.”

Amidst great fanfare, Big Sky began operating at the brand new Plattsburgh International on Oct. 31 offering Delta connection flights to Boston.

But serious problems plagued the airline since the first flight. Late arrivals and departures, canceled flights and problems with aircraft all drew the ire of the traveling public.

“Obviously we knew there were problems, but this comes as a total shock,” said Clinton County Legislator Robert Heins (R-Area 10, City of Plattsburgh), who chairs the county’s Airport Committee.

“This is a good model, and we think an airline can work here, but you have to be able to get people where they want to go and they (Big Sky) weren’t doing that.”

Heins said county officials talked with federal Department of Transportation officials on Tuesday and they were assured that Big Sky would get its act together within 48 hours.

Big Sky receives federal funding as an essential air service provider for Plattsburgh. The Montana-based company took over for CommutAir, which had provided essential air services for years out of the former Clinton County Airport on Route 3.

But instead of re-organizing, Big Sky announced it would end service in the northeast.

“I’d rather they not be here at all than for them to stay here and continue to do what they were doing,” Heins said.

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