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Airport Authority Supports SkyWest

by Airport Authority Supports SkyWest

Posted on 1/7/2014

The Jamestown Regional Airport Authority is recommending the U.S. Department of Transportation accept the bid from SkyWest Airlines to provide passenger air service starting on April 1.

Airport Authority Chairman Jim Boyd said Monday he thinks the SkyWest Airlines bid, which would provide one daily non-stop flight roundtrip from Denver to Jamestown on a 50-seat jet airplane, will bring back passengers the airport lost when Delta Airlines (Air Lines) contract ended on March 31, 2012.

"We lost 53 percent of our customers when Delta left," he said. "We need to get those people back."

Boyd said the DOT bid specifications call for two flights daily in and out of Jamestown for jet service. However, Boyd said he is confident the DOT will award the bid to SkyWest due to the amount of public support for bid.

Boyd said if the DOT does award the bid to SkyWest, he thinks the number of passengers using air service in and out of Jamestown will increase enough that SkyWest could add a second flight, perhaps as soon as early 2015.

Jamestown Regional Airport Manager Matt Leitner said when the DOT asks for public comment on passenger service bids to airports in the Federal Aviation Administration's Essential Air Service program, it is basically looking for three letters:

* One each from the city and county governments that are served by the airport;

* One from the airport's governing body.

Leitner said these letters should show which bidder each government body recommends.

Leitner said he sent letters from the Jamestown City Council, the Stutsman County Commission and the Airport Authority's recommendation letter supporting the SkyWest bid.

Great Lakes Airlines also bid to continue providing service to Jamestown Regional Airport, tied in with Devils Lake Regional Airport, to provide three flights daily to Minneapolis on 19-seat turboprop planes. With the three flights together, Great Lakes offers 57 seats, but those seats are split between Jamestown and Devils Lake.

In addition to the City Council and County Commission letters of support, Jamestown/Stutsman Development Corp., the South Central Dakota Regional Council, Buffalo City Tourism Foundation, Jamestown Area Chamber of Commerce and businesses including UTC Aerospace and Agri-Cover, all sent letters of support for SkyWest, according to Boyd.

"We had a great response from the community, the business community, our government officials, with most supporting the SkyWest bid," he said.

Leitner said the DOT may take up to 30 days to make a decision on the bid.

The Devils Lake Regional Airport Authority announced on Saturday it would recommend the DOT award the SkyWest bid for passenger service to the Devils Lake Regional Airport. The Devils Lake Regional Airport Authority also forwarded letters of support from the city of Devils Lake and Ramsey County for the SkyWest bid.

Leitner said 70 percent of the passengers who travel out of Jamestown Regional Airport are headed for western areas of the country. He said having a direct flight to Denver International Airport, which is a major hub for national and international flights, could be a big advantage for westbound travelers.

Boyd said the Airport Authority's commercial air service committee has been working for more than two years to get more than one airline to bid for Jamestown's passenger service. He said he is hopeful the DOT awards the SkyWest bid.

"We're keeping our fingers crossed," he said.

Sun reporter Chris Olson can be reached at 701-952-8454 or by email at colson@jamestownsun.com