Riverton airport hits 10,000 enplanements

Central Wyoming Regional Airport hit 10,000 enplanements this week, meeting the annual threshold for waiver-free federal funding for the third time in 10 years, city administrator Kyle Butterfield said during a Riverton City Council meeting Tuesday.

He attributed the achievement to Riverton’s partnership with SkyWest Airlines, which provides commercial air service in Wyoming through a statewide capacity purchase agreement.

Enplanement ‘ceiling’

Before SkyWest came on board two years ago, Butterfield said enplanements had “really hit a ceiling” in Riverton.

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“We couldn’t really break that 8,000 threshold,” he said. “(With) SkyWest … immediately we saw that increase.”

Riverton city administrator Kyle Butterfield shared the local airport’s 20-year enplanement report with the Riverton City Council during a meeting this week. h/t City of Riverton

Of course, the numbers fell soon afterward due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, but they later rebounded to reach record levels, Butterfield said.

Enplanements aren’t “trending as high” this year, he noted, because SkyWest currently offers only one flight a day.

Still, Butterfield said, the airport is “exceeding what we did” before the airline came to town.

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“Despite the negative impacts and the challenges that air service is going through … we saw 92 percent growth (because) of our air service partner,” Butterfield said. “Behind Sheridan, we are the fastest-growing (airport) coming out the pandemic.”

Riverton’s is the second-fastest-growing airport in the state, city administrator Kyle Butterfield said this week. h/t City of Riverton

‘We’re pretty lucky’

If Riverton hadn’t joined the statewide agreement with SkyWest, Butterfield said the city would be “hard-pressed to have commercial air service.”

He pointed to almost 60 other airports throughout the country that have lost commercial air service since 2019.

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Riverton city administrator Kyle Butterfield said 58 airports throughout the country have lost commercial air service since 2019. h/t City of Riverton

“We’re pretty lucky that we’re not on that list,” Butterfield said. “The airline industry (is) contracting. … They’re going to markets that can provide the most revenue possible.”

In Riverton, Butterfield said, SkyWest gets a minimum revenue guarantee as part of its capacity purchase agreement with the state, and that makes Central Wyoming Regional Airport a “safer bet” for the airline.

“Regional commercial air service requires (a revenue guarantee) – period,” Butterfield said. “The days of having someone come fly in our market without some level of guarantee are gone.”

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In fiscal year 2022, the local portion of the minimum revenue guarantee for SkyWest amounted to almost $590,000, according to Butterfield’s presentation.

Riverton city administrator Kyle Butterfield shared a breakdown of the local minimum revenue guarantee payments that supported commercial air service at Central Wyoming Regional Airport this fiscal year. h/t City of Riverton

He noted that Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon used federal COVID-19 aid to cover about $185,000 of that total.

For more information call the City of Riverton at 856-2227.

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