July 23, 2008
Vision Airlines Puts Plans on Hold
By Cornelia De Bruin, The Daily Times, Farmington, N.M.
Jul. 23--FARMINGTON -- Chalk up one more loss related to the high cost of fuel: Vision Airlines, of Las Vegas, Nev., is putting its plans to provide commercial service between Farmington and Albuquerque on hold.
Last Friday, Vision laid off about 100 employees and grounded its fleet of Dornier 328 jet aircraft. Vision based its decision on the planes' high fuel burn rate and cost of operation.
Vision planned to offer nonstop service between the two New Mexico cities with its 30-seat Dornier 328 turboprop aircraft.
"There's a lot of bad news out there, and this underscores how fortunate we are to have Great Lakes Airlines," Farmington City Manager Rob Mayes said.
Great Lakes is an independent airline and operated at a profit last quarter. It plans to add an additional seven flights to Phoenix each week beginning in September.
The change will bring to 21 the number of weekly flights Great Lakes flies between Farmington and Phoenix.
Great Lakes also offers 26 direct flights to Denver each week on 19-seat turboprop planes.
Vision indicated to Farmington officials that an analysis showed the New Mexico route was viable, but added the long-term commitment of resources and capital are limited because of fuel costs.
Vision's director of sales and marketing, Warren Kaplan, was one of the people negotiating with Mayes and other Farmington officials. When called for comment, Vision said that Kaplan no longer works for the airline and has not been replaced.
Vision had no immediate comment on the decision to hold off on the Farmington-to-Albuquerque route.
"I can't speak for them, but it indicates they're in a pull-back mode," Mayes said. "When you're pulling back, you might not want to do a lot of marketing."
Any new air service from Vision will be delayed until the airline gets a handle on cost, Mayes said.
Despite the news, Mayes said, "The city is continuing to pursue commercial air services for the Four Corners Regional Airport from all available resources."
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