(Riverton, Wyo.) – The Riverton Regional Airport Board Friday morning heard that efforts to enhance local commercial air service are now well underway. The Chairman of the Air Service Task Force, Missy White of Lander, said a formal request had been submitted to Wyoming Aeronautics and that they had begun contacting airlines to judge their interest in serving Riverton.
“In addition to Skywest, they’ve been in contact with Mesa Air, Wisconsin Airlines, Frontier, United, Silver Airways, Gulf Air, Horizon Air, and American Eagle,” White said. “They are doing a good job of getting options on the table. Great Lakes Airlines, Riverton’s current air service provider, is also in the mix.
Airport Manager Paul Griffin said Great Lakes is changing its local Riverton schedule again, and returning to the use of Beechcraft 1900s exclusively for Riverton. “We’ll be connected with Worland. The flights will start in Denver to Riverton, to Worland, back here to Riverton and then to Denver. I’m not sure if we’re getting the 19 seat Beech or the 9 seater, but since Worland is an Essential Air Service Market, we’ll have flights that should be more reliable,” Griffin said. “He noted that in the first quarter of this year, 63 percent of the flights scheduled to arrive in Riverton were cancelled due to a variety of reasons, including weather, pilot rest, and pilot shortages.
The new schedule would see five flights a day, Sunday through Friday, two of which would go to Worland, three to Denver. Saturday’s schedule would be four flights a day, two to Worland and two to Denver.
White said the task force has been getting “enthusiastic participation” from around the county. “It’s great to see that unified focus, it certainly has increased the conversations about air service,” she said. White also said a delegation from Cody will come here to talk to the task force about how they were able to successfully enhance their local service. “We want to use the best practices that apply to us,” White said. “We can learn from others.”
In terms of what kind of local subsidy may be required to enhance service at Riverton Regional, White said it all depends on what airline comes forward, what kind of aircraft they have, and how Riverton fits into their flight schedule. She said an annual guarantee of from $2 to $3 million is the general range “at the moment” but she also said if boardings increase here and ticket revenues are good, the amount of local incentive required to pay the airline would go down as passenger numbers go up.