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Pierre once again to recommend Aerodynamics for air service

PIERRE (AP) -- Pierre's City Commission has decided to once again recommend Aerodynamics Inc. to provide federally subsidized air service to South Dakota's capital city.

PIERRE (AP) - Pierre's City Commission has decided to once again recommend Aerodynamics Inc. to provide federally subsidized air service to South Dakota's capital city.

Pierre officials have been unsatisfied with the current service provided by Great Lakes Airlines and have been looking for a new carrier since 2014. At one point, commissioners chose Aerodynamics but they later soured on the carrier due to concerns over finances and management.

Those concerns have eased under ADI's new leadership, said Jim Protexter, chief operating officer for the Pierre Economic Development Corp. The city will recommend the carrier to the federal Transportation Department on Wednesday, according to Mayor Laurie Gill.

ADI's bid for the Pierre service under the Essential Air Service subsidy program depends on Watertown also choosing that carrier. Watertown's City Council will decide on its recommendation Wednesday, and Mayor Steve Thorson told the Capital Journal that he expects ADI to be the choice.

Leaders in both cities lost confidence in Great Lakes to provide quality service, citing problems such as delayed and canceled flights.

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Great Lakes said the problems were the result of a pilot shortage caused by federal regulations. Federal Aviation Administration rules that took effect in August 2013 require co-pilots to log 1,500 flight hours before they can work for commercial airlines. They previously required 250 hours.

Pierre Commissioner Jim Mehlhaff said he finds the situation "upsetting."

"The business model for regional (air service) was ruined by FAA rules changing pilot-training requirements," he said. "And that makes its nearly impossible for small airlines to find the pilots, to find the seats and to operate at a profit."

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