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Air service in Pierre continues to suffer

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Air service in Pierre continues to suffer
Mitchell South Dakota 120 South Lawler 57301

PIERRE (AP) — About one-fifth of all flights in and out of South Dakota's capital city are being canceled because of a pilot shortage, and city officials say they are trying to resolve what has become one of the biggest problems facing Pierre.

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Federal regulations that took effect last August require co-pilots to log 1,500 flight hours, rather than the previous 250 hours, and pass the Air Transport Pilot exam before they can work for commercial airlines. That has hurt Great Lakes Airlines, which connects Pierre to Minneapolis and Denver.

Last month, 24 of 124 scheduled Pierre flights were canceled, a rate of 19 percent, according to the Capital Journal. U.S. Department of Transportation standards say anything above a 7 percent cancellation rate is unacceptable.

Mayor Laurie Gill said Great Lakes is working with the Federal Aviation Administration to resolve the issue, which also has affected airports in other smaller cities in the region, and Pierre officials have spoken with federal transportation officials and members of the state's congressional delegation in hopes of getting a resolution by summer.

"I'm adamant that one way or another, we'll have air service in Pierre," Gill said.

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