Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Riverton Economic and Community Development Association hears progress on reliable air service search

(Riverton, Wyo.) – The need for reliable air service at Riverton Regional Airport was the topic at the reconstituted Riverton Economic and Community Development Association (RECDA) meeting Wednesday morning. The promotional group had been inactive for the better part of the last year. “We have missed not having a community forum,” said RECDA’s Alan Moore. “We need a community forum.”

The Wednesday morning program featured a report from the chairman of the recently created Commercial Air Service Task Force, Missy White of Lander.

White told the 25 business and community leaders in attendance that people across Fremont County don’t realize the importance of the Riverton airport to the region’s economy. “This airport contributes $36 million dollars annually in the county, not just Riverton,” she said. “The problem we now are having is that businesses have left, businesses are closing to base outside of the county, businesses are not flying with Great Lakes, and we’re losing tens of thousands of dollars in mileage costs, hotels and lost wages.”

“We have a great facility, let’s get great air service to match it,” she said.

The group is trying to accomplish that goal through the Wyoming Aeronautics Department’s Enhanced Air Service Campaign, financed by the legislature, which has helped other Wyoming communities such as Laramie and Cody, White said.

Moore said Riverton’s airport used to be served with 737 jet service and the community recorded over 30,000 boardings in the early 1970′s. “We could get on a twin-engine jet and fly to Houston with another 100 people around you. That’s how much the market has deteriorated here,” he said. Riverton’s 2013 enplanements, or boardings, totaled 13,762 passengers. The city is now served with 30 passenger Brasilias or 19 passenger Beechcraft, both aging airframes.

“In our discussions with WYDOT Aeronautics, we’ve requested 80 seats to Denver, or 29,200 seats annually. We need to authorize Aeronautics to negotiate additional service for us,” White said, “Then they can go to other airlines and judge the interest and costs.

Lander City Councilor Cade Maestas, who attended the meeting along with White and Lander Community Development Director Gary Michaud, said many options are being considered. “We’re not shopping another airline, we’re seeking reliable air service here, from whomever that may be, and it could be Great Lakes.”

Riverton Councilor Richard Gard said he and Airport Manger Paul Griffin and a representative from the city’s airport engineering consultant had a two hour-long conversation with Wyoming Aeronautics on Tuesday. Of main concern is a major reconstruction of Riverton’s primary runway that will take place next year, limiting arriving aircraft to that portion of the runway not impacted by construction, or to the cross wind runway. “We can probably land Brasilias on the cross wind or on the short runway during construction, but we’ll need special permission to do that, and the aircraft will have weight restrictions,” he said.

Gard also reported that the project cannot be delayed, or it may not come up for funding again anywhere from six to 10 years down the road.

The Commercial Air Service Task Force will meet Thursday afternoon at Lander City Hall to continue to work on an application to Wyoming Aeronautics.


The chair of the Commercial Air Service Task Force for Riverton Regional Airport, Missy White, spoke at Wednesday morning's RECDA meeting. Looking on during the breakfast session is Lee Haines from Wyoming PBS Foundation and Lander City Councilor Cade Maestas.