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Airlines Says Montana Routes Won’t Change, Planes Larger; Gulfstream Renamed Silver Airways
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Airlines Says Montana Routes Won’t Change, Planes Larger; Gulfstream Renamed Silver Airways

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Gulfstream International Airlines, the regional air passenger carrier that links Wolf Point with Billings and six other Montana cities, has announced a change of name to Silver Airways.

The company said in a Dec. 15 news release the new name and logotype “exemplify the airline’s dynamic growth potential, as well as its unwavering commitment to providing highly professional, safe and efficient operations.”

The former Gulfstream International Airlines of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., filed for bankruptcy in November 2010.

Victory Park Capital, a Chicago-based investment firm founded in May 2011, acquired select assets from Gulfstream International Airlines.

The company said Silver Airways “continues the evolution of the carrier under Victory Park.”

“Starting in May, we hit the ground running with a mandate to transform this airline from top to bottom,” said Silver Airways chief executive officer Darrell Richardson. “Our goal — to create the dream airline — one that’s financially sound, safe and professional, but also fun to fly and a great place to work. Adopting the Silver Airways brand is the latest step.”

Silver Airways, also headquartered in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., said the new logo is derived from the spinning propeller blades of a turboprop engine

like those found on the Saab 340Bplus and Beechcraft 1900D aircraft that comprise the Silver Airways fleet.

The new Silver Airways name and brand became official Dec. 15 when Silver Airways received the first of six recently purchased Saab 340Bplus aircraft.

The Saab aircraft with seating for 34, up from a seating capacity of 19 passengers in the company’s fleet of 21 Beechcraft 1900D aircraft, will be deployed along the carrier’s Florida-Bahamas routes. The company said five more Saab 340Bplus planes will be added to the Silver Airways fleet between December 2011 and July 2012.

“The notion of encouraging our passengers to embrace the turboprop as a preferred aircraft type was very important in the development of our new brand,” Richardson said. “People are often surprised to learn how fuel-efficient, quiet, comfortable and reliable modern turboprops like the Saab 340 really are. Turboprops are our lifeblood, so the more we can get passengers to love them, the more they’ll love flying with us.”

Facts and statistics touting the fuel efficiency among turboprops versus jet aircraft are prominently displayed on bright, fuchsia-colored engines aboard each Silver Airways aircraft, with messages plainly visible from inside the cabin.

Silver Airways Corp., owned by Victory Park Capital of Chicago, operates 100-plus daily scheduled flights to and from 29 gateways in Montana, Florida, Ohio, New York, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and the Bahamas.

Victory Park Capital acquired Gulfstream International Airlines’ essential air service contract with the U.S. Department of Transportation.

The EAS program provides government subsidies to regional carriers to attract airlines to remote communities so that the communities may have regularly scheduled flights.

A Silver Airways spokesman told The Herald-News the EAS contract with Silver Airways would remain the same as the EAS contract with Gulfstream.

The two-year, $10,903,854 contract with the USDOT calls for the airline to provide 12 round-trip flights per week to Billings and back from Wolf Point, Glasgow, Glendive, Havre, Lewistown and Miles City, and 17 round trips per week from Sidney to Billings.

Only one round trip is required from Wolf Point to Billings on Saturdays and Sundays.

Like Gulfstream, Silver Airways will continue to be use Billings’ Logan International Airport as its hub, said Silver Airways spokesman Steve Bennett.

Those wanting to make reservations or more information should call Silver Airways at 800-525-0280.

On Jan. 31, the USDOT approved the request of the Montana Essential Air Service Task Force to select Gulfstream International Airlines as the new EAS carrier in Montana.

Gulfstream began air passenger service in early May, when the two-year EAS contract commenced.

Gulfstream succeeded Great Lakes Airlines of Cheyenne, Wyo., which began air passenger service in Wolf Point on April 7, 2009, after taking over the EAS contract from Big Sky Airlines, which announced in December 2007 it would disband and cease operations.

Wolf Point and six other Montana airports lost commercial air service completely for about a year when Big Sky Airlines of Billings went out of business.

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