Fast-Growing WY Airline Expanding Service from MSP

Wyoming-based Great Lakes Airlines, which recently reentered the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, will fly to 14 destinations from the Twin Cities by the end of the year.

A little-known Wyoming-based airline is expanding its service in the Twin Cities and plans to fly to 14 destinations from the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP) by the end of the year, according to a Star Tribune report.

Great Lakes Airlines is reportedly targeting small towns that bigger airlines do not serve. The move comes at a time when Delta Air Lines and other large carriers are abandoning these routes, deeming them as unprofitable, the Minneapolis newspaper reported.

Great Lakes Airlines reportedly reentered MSP last year after an eight-year hiatus, picking up 10 routes from the Twin Cities that Delta recently exited-including Devils Lake, North Dakota. The carrier reportedly plans to add a few more destinations to its local roster before the end of the year. The Twin Cities will serve as its hub for 20 percent of its destinations.

According to the Star Tribune, analysts say that unlike larger carriers, Great Lakes will be able to mint handsome profits on these small-town destinations because its expenses are much lower. The airline reportedly follows a strategy of cutting costs to the bone, eliminating offerings such as soft drink service. Some flights don't even have flight attendants or bathrooms.

This strategy reportedly helped the airline generate $10.7 million in profits last year-more than double its 2010 profits.

“Great Lakes sees an opportunity and is jumping on it,” Terry Trippler, owner of airline rules website ThePlaneRules.com, told the Star Tribune. “They are picking up the spoils.”

Trippler added that Great Lakes also serves as a connecting airline for Delta, helping the larger carrier remove unprofitable service to small towns without losing customers.

Aside from the Twin Cities, Great Lakes also has hubs in Albuquerque, New Mexico; Denver; Las Vegas; Los Angeles; and Phoenix.

To learn more about the airline expanding service out of MSP, read the Star Tribune story here.