by Ray Newton
With passenger count already nearly double what it was last year at the same time, management personnel for Great Lakes Airlines, the regional carrier serving Prescott and the greater area, anticipate even more growth in coming months.
John Freeman, GLA director of customer services for the Cheyenne, Wyoming-based airline, attributes the increasing enplanements to expanded flights to Los Angeles, and recently added flights to Denver.
He explained, “Both those destinations give passengers the opportunity to make connections for national or international destinations. Because of our code-sharing agreements with other airlines, the transfer between flights is relatively painless. What passengers tell us they really like is that they can catch a plane from Prescott without the hassle of fighting traffic, finding a parking spot or waiting in lines for tickets, security and check-in.”
GLA General Manager for Prescott, Kathy DeFreitas, says passengers especially like the non-stop flight to Los Angeles International Airport (or return).
“The flight only takes about 90 minutes,” she said. “We’ve had passengers fly out there in the morning, take care of business, and they’re back here that evening. That’s convenience.”
Flights to Denver are not as frequent—only Mondays and Thursdays. DeFreitas says, “LAX is by far the more popular flight—about a 9-1 ratio.”
DeFreitas cites another “like” for passengers—the 30-passenger Embraer 210 Brasilia twin-engine turbo prop aircraft. An attendant provides onboard services, and the planes are equipped with a restroom.
Both Freeman and DeFreitas are hoping that Prescott’s Ernest A. Love Field will soon be designated as a “regional airport” by the Federal Aviation Authority. That designation likely will lead to airport expansion and a new passenger terminal, they say.
The City of Prescott currently is working with leaders from Prescott Valley, Chino Valley, Dewey, Humboldt-Mayer and several business organizations to achieve that designation.