Air Service Subsidies In Jeopardy
Written by Andrew-Rossi on March 23, 2017
Airline service in Northwest Wyoming may be in jeopardy, if President Trump’s proposed budget cuts are implemented.
The President has proposed eliminating the Essential Air Service Program, which subsidizes flights at Yellowstone Regional Airport during the off season, when tourists are not filling the seats.
However, SkyWest airlines receives almost a million dollars from the Essential Air Service program, which, in addition to ticket fares, guarantees two flights daily – one to Denver and one to Salt Lake City.
KULR 8 correspondent Penny Preston interviewed James Klessens, Executive Director of Forward Cody. He points out that air service is essential to the economic development of this community.
Use of the airport continues to increase. Yellowstone Regional Airport numbers show over 40,000 passengers boarded planes in Cody in 2016, exceeding the previous year by 21.7%. A total of 79,931 passengers traveled through Yellowstone Regional Airport last year.
At yesterday’s Park County Commissioners meeting, Bucky Hall, who is the acting director of the Cody Yellowstone Air Resource Group and a member of the Yellowstone Airport Board, asked Commissioners to send a letter to Wyoming’s congressional delegation requesting them to help keep the Essential Air Service program in the federal budget.
Hall explained that the subsidy assists several airports in this region.
Hall added that in the worst case scenario, local government may have to come up with a way to pay the subsidies, and could fall short. The Commissioners voted to send the letter.