| Mountain Air began in September 1998, as a bunch of guys who enjoyed
flying smaller aircraft on shorter flights. We were born as a commuter airline providing
feeder service. Because we particularly enjoyed the scenery of the West, we
placed our headquarters at Denver International Airport in Colorado. Due to
rapid growth, we opened hubs in Salt Lake City, Utah in November 1998, in
Portland, Oregon in January 1999, and in Ontario, California in February
2000. A need to re-locate hub operations arose during 2001, so Portland was
re-located to Seattle, Washington and Ontario was moved to Los Angeles, California.
We opened our first cargo hub in 2001, in Juneau, Alaska. Growth
continued and in January a new passenger hub was opened in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
For the next couple years the airline stabilized its operations in the
existing hubs and then opened two additional hubs: a passenger hub in St. Louis,
Missouri (March, 2004) and a new cargo hub at Missoula, Montana (January, 2005).
In early 2007, we tried expanding by opening a European division. A major logistical mistake was made -
we were getting quite a number of pilots joining form Europe, and it was assumed they would like to fly there.
That turned out to be wrong. They were joining Mountain Air because they wanted to fly our current areas. Consequently, our European
operation didn't work very well and never really gained any footing. Mission creep was also setting in - the airline had been slowly drifting
away from it's core mission as a commuter airline and more toward a GA flying club. By late 2008, membership was way down and declining, the St. Louis hub was floundering,
Los Angeles was struggling, and Missoula was having problems. In early 2009, we decided to close the St. Louis hub altogether, and begin
to wind down the Missoula hub and all European operations. In late 2009, we decided we would re-make the airline by focusing on
U.S. operations only and returning to our original core mission. We went national by opening up the east coast, and using Chicago O'Hare as our gateway to the east. We opened
Philadelphia as our first eastern hub in November 2009, followed shortly thereafter by the opening of Chicago. Once we were able
to stabilize those operations, we added Atlanta in October 2011, and moved Los Angeles to San Francisco in January 2012. In November 2012,
we opened the Dallas/Ft.Worth hub, completing our coverage of the continental United States.
A small minority of our pilots at that time still wanted to maintain a cargo division within our new hub structure. Since that had been a
part of our operations since 2001, we decided we'd give it a go. Like the European operations before it, it never really gained any footing
and didn't attract any new pilots. It became clear after a few months that it wasn't going anywhere.
Combined with the operational problems, we also had the problem of an aging website. In 2011, our technical team embarked on the mission
to completely re-write the website migrating from a hodgepodge mix of dated Windows active server pages and static HTML to a more modern and
almost completely data driven cross platform PHP based site. After nine months of some long days, we finally brought the new website online
in August of 2012. Changing the structure and back end language has allowed us to move forward on several projects, including adding
an ACARS system to our site and a dynamic flightboard.
In early 2013, we started a project that had been long discussed - adding "mini-hubs" to our
system and eventually eliminating the hub system altogether and moving to a system of
regional operations. We completed the process of adding a system of flights from other
hub airports including Phoenix, Minneapolis, Detroit, Houston, Washington National,
Washington Dulles, Boston, New York LaGuardia, Charlotte and Miami. Other airports would
be added as the need arose. We would initially base our regional operations on just two
regions - west and east. By the 3rd quarter of 2013 we had this phase of our new operations
Also in late 2013, we brought online a complete, voluntary training system to help our
members in any way they may need it - ranging from setting up the software to IFR flying
rules. Our membership once again began growing steadily, and our participation rate again
was on the rise.
In 2014, we added Canada to our route system. We added operations at Vancouver, Calgary,
Toronto and Halifax.
In 2016, we once again consolidated by eliminating completely our always struggling cargo
operations and did away with regions altogether. Our focus became simply one of commuter
operations from major airports, without regard to a regional or "hub" concept. If an airport
within our service area has considerable commuter operations, we'll be a part of that. An
example of this is KPHL and KLGA. We have operations at both, even though they are quite
close and probably wouldn't both be served under a true regional or hub system.
In 2018, we'll celebrate 20 years as an active virtual airline, making us one of the four longest
standing active VA's in existence.