(Pavillion, Wyo.) – The Air Service Enhancement Task Force today learned that two airlines are considering service to Riverton Regional Airport, but that they would not begin flying here until after a runway re-construction project is completed next year. Missy White of Lander, Chair of the task force, said SkyWest Airlines and United Airlines responded positively to a Wyoming Department of Aeronautics inquiry about serving Riverton. “That does not mean that they will come here, but the state is now negotiating with them to find out what costs would be to provide additional service,” she said. “One those costs are known, the task force will know what kind of a revenue guarantee would be needed to secure a commitment.”
Wyoming Aeronautics has designated $1.2 million for Riverton in their current budget.
The task force sought the state’s assistance to seek out potential carriers who may be able to serve the city, including current cargo carriers who are considering passenger routes and regional carriers from other parts of the country. Ten airlines were contacted nationally, but of those, only SkyWest and United are the most probable candidates, White said. SkyWest’s base is in Salt Lake City, and United has a hub in Denver from which United Express flights serve regional airports.
The Riverton airport is currently served by Great Lakes Airlines, but due to a number of factors, half of Riverton’s flights have been cancelled so far this year. Great Lakes, however, has been working with one of the airport’s most frequent users, the National Outdoor Leadership School in Lander, to ensure that flights are scheduled for those dates when students will be arriving for classes this summer, and then departing back for home afterwards. The airline has also connected Worland to its Riverton service. Since Worland is an Essential Air Service airport, those flights would be guaranteed.
The task force was given the job of finding ways to enhance the commercial air service locally so it would become more reliable. At today’s meeting, representatives from Riverton, Lander, Pavillion, Shoshoni and Hudson, plus St. Rep. Lloyd Larsen of Lander and County Commissioner Stephanie Kessler of Lander, attended.
A complicating factor in attracting more reliable service is the fact that Riverton Regional is seeing over 50 percent of its potential passengers leaving the county for other airports, including those in Casper, Rock Springs, Jackson, Denver, Salt Lake City and Billings.