Yellowstone Regional’s New Director Sees Promising Future
Written by Andrew-Rossi on March 16, 2021
In his first week as Yellowstone Regional Airport’s new director, Aaron Buck addressed business leaders on how the airport will fly higher in the years to come.
During the Cody Club Lunch on Monday, March 15, Buck was the keynote speaker. He arrived in Cody last week, just beat the record-breaking blizzard pummeling Casper. Now he is familiarizing himself with the position of Airport Director at Yellowstone Regional Airport.
Buck introduced himself by sharing his history of work with airports that heavily rely on tourism. His last position was Deputy Director of the Casper/Natrona County International Airport for almost five years.
Previous employment includes Operations Supervisor and Assistant Airport Security Coordinator at the Jackson Hole Airport, and work at the Yellowstone Airport in West Yellowstone, Montana.
For the majority of his presentation, Buck summarized the findings of the 2020 Aviation Economic Impact Study. WYDOT conducts a study of the economic impacts of Wyoming’s airports every seven years.
Yellowstone Regional isn’t the top-earning airport in the state but it definitely contributes its fair share.
In 2020, Yellowstone Regional Airport created:
- 686 jobs
- Nearly $22 million in payroll ($21,865,500)
- Nearly $44 million in spending ($43,846,100)
- Over $65 million in annual economic activity ($65,714,600)
- Over $2 million in state and local sales tax revenues ($2,413,690)
2019 was one of the busiest years Cody Regional ever experienced. Visitors and flights were at an all-time high, with both of Cody’s airlines – United and SkyWest Delta – extending their services until Nov. 1.
Then 2020 happened . . .
Despite record drops in flights and revenues across the globe, Buck highlighted one positive to come out of the despair: the millions of dollars in CARES Act funding.
The federal government awarded Cody just over $18 million in stimulus relief funds due to COVID-19. Since they have until May 5, 2024, to spend the entire amount, Buck could potentially oversee several major projects in his first few years as director.
Projects already highlighted for CARES Act funds include the development of taxi lanes, approach improvements, and expanding the terminal. These additions follow the vision of the airport’s recently completed master plan.
At the conclusion of his presentation, Buck took questions from the audience regarding the airport’s current and future plans. He was assisted by Bucky Hall, Yellowstone Regional Airport board member.
When asked if the airport was looking into offering service from additional airlines, Buck responded concisely.
“Not in the six days I’ve been here,” he said candidly.
Hall responded by saying discussions were occurring but there’s nothing definitive at this point. Arrangements with other airlines, he says, could be too costly to make sense.
Another question dealt with the opportunities Director Buck sees in the future for Cody and Yellowstone Regional. His answer is two-fold, long-term and short-term.
Tourism, Buck said, is the bright spot in the airport’s long-term vision. Visitors were increasing before the pandemic and the tourism industry is likely to recover and thrive before many others.
And the short-term opportunity?
“Next year, Jackson Hole Airport is shutting down its runway for (three) months to tear up and replace its runway. Wouldn’t be nice if Cody could step up and cover their flights during that closure? Show everyone that’s there’s another airport right next to (Yellowstone?)”