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Celebrating jet service; Governor says return of commercial passenger air service good for area

by Celebrating jet service; Governor says return of commercial passenger air service good for area

Posted on 6/21/2014

Having SkyWest Airlines bring back commercial passenger air service to Jamestown Regional Airport and Devils Lake Regional Airport is a boon for North Dakota, the state's governor said.

"This is a new beginning for air travel in the region and an impressive accomplishment for all the federal, state and local leaders who worked so hard to bring jet service to Jamestown and Devils Lake," Gov. Jack Dalrymple said at an open house celebrating the return of jet service at Jamestown Regional Airport.

Speaking after a ribbon-cutting ceremony, Dalrymple said having jet service to Jamestown will only help the area improve.

"When you go from zero flights to 11 jet service flights a week, that's fantastic," he said. "I think it will make a big difference in the quality of life around here, in the business community, and it's also very import for the safety and security of the community."

Dalrymple said having the jet passenger service is important, but so is SkyWest Airline's reputation for reliability.

"Air service is one thing, good air service is another. I think with SkyWest we have a carrier we want," he said.

Kyle Wanner, director of the North Dakota Aeronautics Commission, said for the first time in North Dakota aviation history, all eight of its commercial airports have jet passenger service.

"That's a statement in itself for North Dakota," he said. "People want to fly. Having the option to fly in and out of North Dakota is important. Flying makes business work and makes a community thrive. Having SkyWest Airlines coming into Jamestown and Devils Lake is a very good thing for the state of North Dakota."

Jim Boyd, chairman of the Jamestown Regional Airport Authority, said having SkyWest win the bid to provide commercial passenger service under the Federal Aviation Admin- istration's Essential Air Service program was a big plus for Jamestown.

He said it took help from the state's congressional delegation, as well as Dalrymple and Wanner to get the SkyWest bid at least in the running for consideration by the U.S. Department of Transportation, the agency that oversees the EAS program.

The state's congressional delegation was unable to attend but representatives of Sens. Heidi Heitkamp and John Hoeven and Rep. Kevin Cramer had prepared remarks from their offices.

United Express, through a contract with SkyWest, started jet passenger service on June 5. Boyd said he expects boarding numbers to steadily increase through the summer now that reliable passenger air service is available in Jamestown.

Sandeep Wadhwa lives in Denver and works for Noridian. Once a month he comes to Jamestown as part of his job. Prior to SkyWest Airlines starting passenger air service through United Express, Wadhwa said he would fly into either Fargo or Bismarck, rent a car and drive to Jamestown.

He said he was checking out flights and found the flight to Jamestown from Denver. Wadhwa said he couldn't believe the difference in price.

"It's the difference between a $1,000 ticket and a $400 ticket," he said.

Wadhwa was at the Jamestown airport for a return flight to Denver Friday afternoon. He said the staff at the airport is friendly and efficient, and he doesn't miss the drive from Fargo or Bismarck to Jamestown.

"It's amazing, great service here and my rental car was literally waiting for me right outside the terminal doors," he said.

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