(Lander, Wyo.) – On Tuesday, the Fremont County Commission heard stories of woe regarding Thanksgiving travel at Riverton Regional Airport.
The commission has no management say over the airport operations, which falls under the City of Riverton’s Airport Board, nor does it have a say with the lone airline, Great Lakes. The commission does have a liaison to the airport board, and it does annually provide approximately $100,000 to the board.
Noting these constraints, Lander residents Missy White and Penny Buffington spoke out Tuesday morning about the problems they’ve experienced.
White said Great Lakes’s service has reached “an all time low.” She said she can’t use the Riverton airport, and thus support the local economy, when she has to make business meetings at certain scheduled times. White also referenced Great Lakes CEO Chuck Howell’s pledge in May of this year that they “will try to do a better job.” (Read more about the meeting where Howell addressed concerns here.) “Try is not a management tactic,” White said.
Buffington said on the Monday before her daughter’s Wednesday flight on Thanksgiving week she called to check the flight’s status. She said Great Lakes assured her that her daughter’s flight was still on, but the ones before and after were cancelled. On Wednesday, she said all of the people from the first cancelled flight were stranded at the airport and hadn’t been informed that it was cancelled. “They knew they had planned on canceling that flight,” Buffington said. “They let these folks show up and didn’t tell them.”
Commission Chairman Doug Thompson assured White and Buffington that the commission was aware of the issues and had spoken with the airport board about them. He asked if forming a kind of citizen’s advisory committee would help, but neither were sure if that would make any difference.
One compounding problem with reliable air service is a national pilot shortage. Read more about that issue here.