SCOTTSBLUFF, Neb. (AP) – The Scottsbluff airport board has selected a new carrier it wants for subsidized flights to Denver International Airport, replacing the airline that’s canceled several flights over the past year.

The Western Nebraska Regional Airport board voted Wednesday to recommend Aerodynamics Inc. to the U.S. Transportation Department, which makes the final decision on providers of Essential Air Service flights. Company officials hope to begin Scottsbluff service as soon as February.

The company has said it intends to provide 50-passenger jets for two flights to and from Denver each weekday and one flight on Saturdays and Sundays. The proposal from Aerodynamics, which has its corporate base in Beachwood, Ohio, beat those from the current service provider, Great Lakes Airlines, and bids from Boutique Air and Via Air.

Great Lakes has had trouble finding enough pilots to comply with a new federal rule that required that pilots and co-pilots at small airlines have 1,500 hours of experience, instead of the previously required 500 hours. It had to cancel flights in and out of six Nebraska airports it’s been serving: Alliance, Chadron, Kearney, McCook, North Platte and Scottsbluff.

The Scottsbluff board believes that Transportation Department officials “have not been happy with our current carrier,” said board President Don Overman. “They know Great Lakes doesn’t have the ability to provide what they’ve proposed.”

A Great Lakes spokesman didn’t immediately return a call Thursday from The Associated Press.

Aerodynamics representative Mickey Bowman said it has proposed service plans to the Kearney and North Platte airports and that its pending contract with the Scottsbluff board is contingent upon a service approval from one of the other two airports. Officials for the two airports’ boards have yet to vote on the service proposals.

“Any carrier who takes over this service will have one shot to impress,” Bowman said of the Scottsbluff airport deal. If the price, dependability and quality of plane don’t meet people’s standards, he said, they’ll just drive to Denver instead of taking the 20- to 25-minute flights. The road trip runs most people 3½ to 4 hours.

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