Denver Air Connection on safety

Courier file photo by John Waters Denver Air Connection pilot Jon Coleman.

ALAMOSA and DENVER — As previously reported in the Valley Courier, in a recent broadcast on Denver station KRDO, safety issue allegations by five former Key Lime Air/Denver Air Connection pilots were aired. That segment was brought up at a recent advisory board meeting of the San Luis Valley Regional Airport with Capt. Jon Coleman, a pilot and spokesperson with the airline that serves the airport with service to Denver.

Coleman, who has been with the airline, agreed to an interview to discuss the airline's safety record.

The former pilots interviewed in the segment have been sued by the airline for breaching their employment contracts and have counter sued. Coleman said he was reluctant to address specific allegations as the matter is in litigation and agreed to speak in general.

"There is an effort by a handful of pilots to not be bound to their training contract, they use maintenance as the reason for their departure, and we insisted that they pay the contract back and we sued them," said Coleman.

Coleman said the airline currently employs about 100 pilots.

"This is a very hot market for pilots, and pilots are in high demand, we have a training contract we have for every pilot we hire with low hours, this group left for different jobs and this group is using maintenance for not having to pay the contract back," said Coleman.

According to a recent study by the U.S. Government Accountability Office, "The demand for commercial airline travel rebounded after the COVID-19 pandemic, heightening the need for pilots and mechanics. But while the number of pilots has grown in recent years, there may not be enough of them to meet airlines' needs in the future."

"The airplanes that fly into Alamosa are operated by Part 121, [Federal Aviation Administration Regulation Part 121 pertains to regularly scheduled air carriers] which are the highest safety standards in the United States and likely in the world. Our airline has an impeccable safety record as highlighted in the news story on KRDO," said Coleman.

The segment referenced included this, “Since 2015, the airline has had no enforcement actions [from the Federal Aviation Administration].”

Coleman stressed that the allegation made that the airline flies passenger aircraft without

proper pressurization is categorically false. He stressed that Key Lime Air operates a cargo side of the business and the Denver Air Connection a passenger side and the cargo aircraft are not required to be pressurized.