Air Service Improvement Council deciding on Capacity Purchase plan for state’s airports today

(Riverton, Wyo.) – The State’s Commerical Air Service Improvement Council began a day-long meeting in Riverton this morning with the purpose of approving a capacity purchase plan that will serve as a template for future air service across the state.

In opening remarks at the Central Wyoming College Intertribal Education and Community Center, Wyoming Department of Transportation Director Bill Panos said the effort being undertaken by the committee today is the result of much pre-work by Wyoming Aeronautics staff. “We come today with a completed plan for you to discuss and approve later this afternoon,” he told members of the council. “This involved a lot of pre-work to get to this stage, since we are under such a tight timeframe.”

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Mike Kahler, a Senior Assistant Wyoming Attorney General, said the long term commercial air service plan that would be approved today will next go to the Aeronautics Commission for approval, and then to the Governor’s Office by August 1st to meet a legislated mandate. He said the completed plan would also be forwarded to the Legislature’s Joint Minerals, Business & Economic Development and Appropriations committees.

The council is chaired by Rep. Tom Walters of Natrona County and Sen. Michael Von Flatern of Campbell County. Local representatives on the council include Riverton Mayor Lars Baker and Cy Lee representing the ENDOW effort and the Wind River Development Fund.

Riverton Mayor Lars Baker noted that the Wyoming Association of Municipalities has endorsed the capacity purchase program.

Joseph Pickering, the air service business leader at Mead and Hunt Consulting told the council their first order of business at today’s meeting was to determine distribution of revenues, if any excess profits were to occur, from the plan once initiated. He said the council has already determined the costs for the program would be split 60/40, with the state contributing the 60 percent and the local communities participating in the program the 40 percent. He said the communities participating in the Minimum Revenue Guarantee with an airline (MRG) currently use this formula and he said it was working well. He said it would be unlikely to expect any profits from the service “until well into the future,” but he said now was the time to make that decision.

Von Flatern advocated for 100 percent of the profits going to those airports that do not receive a state subsidy. Southwest Wyoming Regional Airport Director Devon Brubaker disagreed, saying the split should be 60/40 for all airports, calling it an “insurance policy”.

The meeting is expected to continue until 5 p.m.

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