Marketing needed to boost slipping passenger numbers at Riverton Regional Airport, manager said

A passenger checked in at the Great Lakes ticket counter at Riverton Regional Airport last week. The airport has experienced a downward trend in passenger boardings. (Ernie Over photo)

A passenger checked in at the Great Lakes ticket counter at Riverton Regional Airport last week. The airport has experienced a downward trend in passenger boardings. (Ernie Over photo)

By Ernie Over, managing editor, county10.com

(Riverton, Wyo.) – Enplanements at Riverton Regional Airport  are off for the first two months of 2013, continuing what Airport Manager and Riverton Public Works Director Bill Urbigkit said is a trend “that causes me concern.”

Enplanements, a term referring to the number of people who board Great Lakes Airlines flights in Riverton, totaled 1,776 for the first two months of this year, down 230 passengers from the same two months in 2012.  There were 906 boardings in January and 870 in February. “Traditionally, February is a slow month,” Urbigkit said, but he said enplanements have been decreasing since 2011. “For all of 2012 we had 13,375 passenger boardings, which was down 1,000 passengers from 2011. We’re trending in the wrong direction.”

Looking over the numbers at his office at Riverton City Hall, Urbigkit said it’s time to market the airport again. ” We have to do more to combat the perception  that commercial flights are unreliable and that you can’t fly out of here. We need to consider another marketing effort, we can’t sit idly by and assume boardings will get better.”

Urbigkit said one strategy he will pursue is to get officials from Great Lakes Airlines back up to Riverton and talk about another marketing effort.

Arriving passengers unload luggage outside of the Riverton Regional Airport terminal last week. (Ernie Over photo)

Arriving passengers unload luggage outside of the Riverton Regional Airport terminal last week. (Ernie Over photo)

Riverton Regional was last promoted when the Wyoming Aeronautics Division created the “Fly Wyoming” program, which promoted flying from all of the states seven commercial airports some six years ago.

“Flying out of Riverton is a great deal, not only do you save time by not driving to another city or another state, but you don’t have the travel costs and parking fees you find at other airports if you fly out here. If you book  your flights at least 30 days in advance, you can get the same prices as you can in Casper,” he said. Urbigkit also asked, rhetorically, “what is your time worth? If you fly out of Riverton, as City Council Member Rich Gard likes to say, you get two extra days on your vacation or trip.”

Urbigkit said only one other airport in the state showed a decrease in boardings, and that was at Cheyenne, which recently lost its American Airlines flight to Dallas, which impacted its boarding statistics.

“If we don’t do anything to combat the negative perception, it will become a self-fullfiling prophecy,” he said.

Now the good news.

 

A Great Lakes flight at Riverton Regional Airport. (Photo by Jviation Construction Management)

A Great Lakes flight at Riverton Regional Airport. (Photo by Jviation Construction Management)

Great Lakes Airlines, the only commercial airline serving Riverton, told Urbigkit that they would be adding capacity starting in April. “We’ll have twice-a-day (Embraer EMB 120) Brasilias, a 30 passenger aircraft, and a once daily Beech 1900, with 19 passengers,” he said. “Advance bookings are looking good right now, and summer is always better than winter, and in summer NOLS (The National Outdoor Leadership School in Lander) is huge for us.”

 

 

12 Comments

  1. Marie Pepper

    I remember booking a flight for Riverton a couple years ago via Travelocity and Orbitz and they stated the reliability of that flight leaving on time – most large commercial flights out of Denver were at 99% likely, but the RIW ones said something like 46% which is disastrous for the many customers who are trying to catch connecting flights at major airports. Unless this number specifically has improved, I won't fly through Riverton unless I'm not intending to catch a connecting flight. If it has improved, then maybe this new updated number can be used in the marketing materials to correct old misconceptions.

  2. Marianne Zura

    How about friendlier and more accommodating staff at this airport? How about when luggage gets lost from Denver to Riverton, it is not the passenger's responsibility to pick it up at the airport, rather it should be delivered, like at other airports,(and without having to nag the airport personnel to do this) especially if the passenger is in Dubois for only a few days? More folks would come in to this airport if it were brought into the 21st century. The free parking and lower fare to come into Riverton are definite plusses, but not if getting help after disembarkment in the evening the tarmac staff could care less if there are lost luggage issues and they disappear at first opportunity. Typically there is no one at the car rental desks either. Put someone there part-time for customer service issues so passengers don't have to walk around the building at night to try and find help. Thank goodness for the waitresses in the cafe. At least they give a hoot.

  3. Brett Hutchison

    I would fly fly from Riverton if the last 4 times I was on great lakes or also know as great late would have not been late geting in to or out of Riverton last time the flight did not even leave denver that night and had to miss a half day of work. On the price last time I flew was to Hawaii left from Casper the only thing that was was not the same was my flight in to denver and was $400 cheaper out of Casper and before I was leving Denver I looked and the Great Lakes plane I would have on had not made it in to Denver so would have missed that flight om that day to.

  4. Karlee Larsen-Zach

    I travel frequently out of the Riverton Airport. The last 3 times on the Morning flight they cancelled the flight, and I now have $900 worth of coupons from Great Lakes due to getting stuck in Denver. Missed my grandson's first birthday party, and always pay more to fly out of Riverton. For me, the trip to Casper is better than relying on Riverton and the iffy travel schedule. I have missed several days of work because of the schedule and can never book the next flight. Great Lakes needs to spend more time on maintenance in the evenings when the flights are not supposed to run, then trying to play catch up where their flights are delayed. Only good thing I can say about Great Lakes is that flying Riverton is better than Williston. The convienence is great. The service is sub par at best. And the people at the counter do try… The corporation doesn't care.

  5. Hollie Watterson

    YUP I know of a number of people that fly out of Casper – less expensive and more reliable….. the numbers should tell great lakes something. I understand the cool mill from the gov, but maybe Riverton should look at a more reliable airline.

  6. Jennifer McCarty

    Riverton is horrible about canceled flights. This has happened to numerous people who live here and visit.

  7. Jamie Lynn Cook

    Lol at Maintenance…Great Lakes offered my husband a job after he graduated and at 9.50 an hour that's why their flights keep breaking down! You get what you pay for. Sorry for your troubles. Not a fan of Great Lakes!

  8. Jamie Lynn Cook

    Just to add my husband is an A&P Mechanic…

  9. Paul Branham

    Flew Great Lakes last year. Only reason I did fly out of Riverton, is that I was travelling for business and where I work paid for the flight. On the return trip, the plane could only handle 8 passengers, even though it had 16 or 18 seats total. Flight was delayed 3 hours for me, as I was one of the lucky 8. The other passengers all had to wait 24+ hours to get a flight. Bill needs to wake up, they aren't reliable. If he thinks so, then I think he needs a lesson in statistics.

  10. John Gans

    Marketing is NOT the answer. People who fly most, who don't have extra time will drive to get reliable service. I am one of them. The answer is get rid of Great Lakes and talk Sky West into flying Riverton Denver. Even if they drop a flight per day it would be much better service. Great Lakes has proven they can't do it…. Sky West is a solid commuter.

  11. LeeAnne Sachau Bell

    Marketing dollars are a waste. Great Lakes has continued to prove to me they are completely unreliable. My time, and my customers time is valuable! I can't afford to keep losing a day to cancelled flights. It's much faster and more reliable to drive to Casper. They have lost my business and no amount of marketing will change the high number of cancelled or late flights.

  12. Tom Throop

    We used to frequently fly out of Riverton. With Great Lakes doubling prices, and cranking prices through the roof before, during and after anything resembling a holiday, we quit flying out of Riverton. Want to increase the number of people flying out of Riverton? RETURN TO REASONABLE PRICES!

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