Company History


As the Prop Turns…

A look into the history of Great Lakes Aviation, Ltd.



Great Lakes Aviation traces its success back to April 15th with the creation of Spirit Lake Airways.  Founded by Doug Voss and Ivan Simpson in Spirit Lake, Iowa, the Company offered flight instruction, charter service and aircraft maintenance.



Great Lakes Aviation officially incorporated on October 25th, the Company name change reflected its expansion in the Iowa Great Lakes region of Northwest Iowa.



First scheduled passenger flight began on October 12th between Spencer and Des Moines, Iowa.



On June 15th, the Company acquired its first of eight Beechcraft 99 Turboprop airliners.



In August, the Company acquired its first Chicago O’Hare landing FAA slot lottery.  This event allowed the beginning of scheduled service to Chicago O’Hare.  In October, Great Lakes Aviation was selected by the U.S. Department of Transportation to provide service to its first subsidized Essential Air Service routes.



Great Lakes Aviation took delivery of their first Beechcraft 1900C Turboprop airliner with 19-seat capacity.



April 1st, Great Lakes acquired Alliance Airlines’ route structures and its Chicago O’Hare landing slots, greatly enhancing the Company’s presence at Chicago O’Hare.



In June, Great Lakes began providing scheduled air service to Denver’s Stapleton Airport from cities in Iowa, Nebraska and North Dakota.



On April 25th, Great Lakes Aviation inaugurated service as a United Express carrier through a comprehensive marketing agreement with United Airlines.




On January 20th, the Company completed an initial public offering of its stock trading on the NASDAQ exchange under GLUX.  The proceeds allowed the acquisition of larger aircraft.  In May, Great Lakes Aviation purchased its first of twelve Embraer Brasilia aircraft, which provide 30-seat capacity and in-flight service.  The Company also took delivery of its first Beechcraft 1900D airliner, which features a stand-up cabin, enhancing passenger comfort.



Great Lakes Aviation was selected by United Airlines to provide regional air service at 20 locations in Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, Kansas and Nebraska to feed the Denver Hub.



Great Lakes Aviation signed a lease with the Cheyenne Airport in May that facilitated a move from Spencer, Iowa to Cheyenne, Wyoming.  The State of Wyoming provided funding to build a new maintenance facility and Corporate Headquarters for Great Lakes Aviation.  Construction began in August.



The move into the final phase of the new Corporate Headquarters was complete, creating approximately 150 new positions in Wyoming.



On May 1st, Great Lakes Aviation announced a re-branding from United Express to its own independent identity, “Great Lakes Airlines”.  A new code-share agreement with United Airlines was negotiated, allowing the Company to arrange similar code-sharing relationships with other airlines. 


On July 9th, a code-share agreement began with Frontier Airlines, bringing their affordable fares to communities served by Great Lakes Airlines.



In August, Great Lakes welcomed new CEO, Chuck Howell.  Mr. Howell came to Great Lakes from Nashville, TN, where he served the previous six years as President/CEO of Corporate Airlines.



Great Lakes Airlines began offering their own inflight magazine, “Peaks & Plains”, to spotlight the small communities they serve.



Great Lakes Airlines entered into its first Interline Electronic Ticketing agreement with US Airways allowing for a Great Lakes flight to be purchased in combination with a US Airways flight and passengers receive just one ticket.



Great Lakes celebrates its 30th year of airline service.


They sign Interline Electronic Ticketing agreements with American Airlines and Delta Airlines.


Great Lakes began expanding to 7 new communities with service into Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport (MSP).



The expansion into MSP continued well into 2012, returning Great Lakes to the hub city where its headquarters were located for a short period of time.



In August implementation of new 1500 hour ATP First Officer qualifications goes into effect.



In January new Part 117 Flight & Duty Time Rest Rules took effect.  In March received FAA authorization adding Part 135 Operation Specifications to existing Part 121 Certificate.  Also, in March added Delta SkyMiles program to all Delta ticketed flights.



The Frontier Pilot path Program went into effect allowing individuals to come to Great Lakes Aviation and smoothly transition to Frontier after completing minimums. We also are pleased to announce we have started hiring part time Captains.