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Airport sets new boarding record

by Chris Olson

Posted on 3/20/2015

Jamestown Regional Airport has a new record for passenger boardings in a month.

SkyWest Airlines had 798 passenger boardings for February, which broke the previous record by one set by Delta Airlines in February 2012.

"This is the most (passenger boardings), that I can tell, we've ever had," said Sam Seafeldt, airport manager.

Jim Boyd, president of the Jamestown Regional Airport Authority, said he believes that is the most passenger boardings for the airport since at least 1978.

Seafeldt said the passenger boardings were helped by mild winter weather and fewer flight cancellations.

"We had an on-time rate of 83 percent for February and only two cancellations due to weather," he said.

Through March 18 there have been 489 passenger boardings and a 94 percent on-time rate, Seafeldt said.

The February passenger boardings number is a 36 percent increase from January's total of 584 passenger boardings. There were no passenger boardings in February 2014 due to lack of service because Great Lakes Airlines stopped providing flights between Minneapolis, Minn., and Jamestown.

Part of what helped fill the SkyWest flights for February 2015 was transporting college sports teams to tournaments, according to Seafeldt. The University of Jamestown men's and women's basketball teams flew out of Jamestown for some out-of-town games, as did sports teams from Valley City State University and a team from the University of North Dakota.

Seafeldt said another contributing factor might be that people who are booked on the morning flight out of Jamestown and are delayed are opting to take the afternoon flight from Jamestown rather than driving to Fargo or Bismarck for a different flight.

"If people are bumped from the morning flight, for whatever reason, they are given the choice of taking the afternoon flight from Jamestown, or taking the next available flight from Fargo or Bismarck," he said. "More people are choosing to take the afternoon flight from Jamestown."

Boyd said it is important to note that United Express, the airline providing the flights between Denver International Airport and Jamestown and Devils Lake Regional airports by contract with SkyWest Airlines, is using the same kind of 50-seat jets, CRJ 200, that Delta Airlines used when it provided passenger air service to Jamestown.

One goal that Boyd has said he would like the airport to reach is averaging 10,000 annual passenger boardings. If the airport can reach that number, which means averaging 834 passenger boardings a month, the airport would receive $1 million in additional funding from the Federal Aviation Administration that could be used for almost any airport improvement project.

In other business, the Airport Authority approved changing the monthly rental rates for its new T-hangars. Jeff Wilhelm, chairman of the authority's general aviation committee, said the committee determined the rents the Airport Authority was seeking for the nine recently completed T-hangars were too high for the market. The authority was set to charge $200 a month for the six uniform size hangars, $250 a month for the medium-sized hangar and $325 a month for the largest of the new hangars.

Wilhelm said after talking with the people who rent hangars in other regional airports near Jamestown, the general aviation committee members felt the rents were too high.

The new rents will be $150 a month for the six uniform size hangars, $200 a month for the medium hangar and $250 a month for the largest new hangar. The Airport Authority set the leases as annual agreements with a 5 percent increase for expenses with six months of rent paid up front. The rental income generated by the hangars will pay off the hangars' $535,000 cost.

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