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Airport Pays Off Airfest Loan

Posted on 7/9/2009

The Jamestown Regional Airport Authority paid off the loan it had backed last year to cover the losses by the Jamestown AirFest. The air show was part of the Jamestown 125th Anniversary Celebration last June and was postponed for one day due to weather.

"We used an airport savings account that had been used as collateral for the loan to pay it off," said Andrew Schneider, airport manager. "We ended up covering $58,738 of the loss of the air show."

The airport originally borrowed $75,000 last July but the amount was partially paid by continued fundraising by the AirFest Committee.

"We told them this wasn't in the best interest of the airport," Schneider said. "We told them we won't be a part of something like this again."

The Federal Aviation Administration has received two bids for the Essential Air Service contract for Jamestown and Devils Lake. The EAS contract serves as a subsidy for airlines providing commercial air service to smaller communities.

The current carrier, Mesaba Airlines, a subsidiary of the newly merged Delta and Northwest Airlines, is bidding to continue the route. The other bid was from Belcourt, N.D.-based Sovereign Airlines.

"Sovereign doesn't have an operating certificate and only has ticketing agreements with Southwest Airlines," Schneider said. "It would be the end of airline service here if the EAS contract went to them."

The EAS contract will be awarded in September and take effect Oct. 1. Members of the Airport Authority volunteered to write letters supporting the Mesaba bid to the FAA.

The authority members also learned of a schedule change slated to go into effect in August. The afternoon flight will come directly from Minneapolis to Jamestown before continuing to Devils Lake and then return to Minneapolis. Currently the afternoon flight to Jamestown makes a stop in Brainard, Minn., and the afternoon flight to Devils Lake stops in Grand Forks.

Work is scheduled to begin on a pavement rejuvenation and painting project at the airport on July 27.

Also, bids will be let for a runway shoulder repair project on Aug. 3.

Sun reporter Keith Norman can be reached at (701) 952-8452 or by e-mail at knorman@jamestownsun.com