Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Brand transition, runway work underway at Watertown Regional Airport (KATY), Codington County, South Dakota

As Aerodynamics Inc. commercial air service continues to find an enthusiastic audience in the Watertown area, passengers can expect a gradual transition in airline name branding over the next year.

Evidence already exists of the brand transition. As Watertown Regional Airport Manager Todd Syhre pointed out to the airport board at its quarterly meeting Monday afternoon, an airplane bearing the Sky Value name was present in Watertown. The plane temporarily replaced a plane bearing the ADI namesake as the latter was sent off for repairs.

According to Syhre, the Sky Value brand is becoming prominent in other ADI markets. The Sky Value name is a reflection of ADI’s preference to distance itself from what was a tough year in 2016, despite the successful launches in the Watertown and Pierre markets.

Last year included ADI’s former parent company, SeaPort Airlines, declaring bankruptcy.

“(Sky Value) is a new brand that ADI is going with,” Syhre said. “What they’re thinking is that they’re going to try to get away from the (ADI) brand, although Watertown is doing excellent with that brand. With ADI, Watertown has had no complaints. But nationwide, there have been a lot of complaints and baggage going with that name.”

While other markets will see the Sky Value name becoming prominent, Syhre made a successful request to keep the ADI brand in place in Watertown.

“We have had all the logos, all of our marketing and everything revolving around the ADI name in Watertown,” Syhre said. “I asked them if we can keep (ADI) specific to Watertown. They said they had no problem with that.”

Assuming the relationship between the city and airline continues beyond the current contract expiration date in September 2018, the ADI brand in Watertown would be phased out completely in favor of Sky Value.

“Once in awhile we will see a Sky Value plane,” Syhre said.

As it currently stands, Syhre expects the Sky Value planes to primarily be used as charters while filling in for commercial needs in the event a main plane needs to be serviced.

Outside of the brand change, Syhre said the relationship between ADI and its Watertown area passengers continues to bloom.

With 10,000 passengers projected to board by Oct. 1, Syhre said the Essential Air Service subsidy is down to $126 per passenger through the end of March. That subsidy marks a significant decrease from the $180 per passenger subsidy the airport had after a month and a half of ADI service through September 2016, which itself was healthily under a $200 EAS subsidy cap.

“We’ve considerably dropped every month,” Syhre said. “$126 per passenger is phenomenal.”

With many people around the area — and some coming from as far as Sioux Falls — utilizing the current Watertown-Pierre-Denver route, Syhre said that while there is always some discussion to possibly add a route to Minneapolis, there is even more discussion about a possible route to Chicago.

“Minneapolis is just too short of a run. Too expensive. Nobody goes to Minneapolis to stay in Minneapolis… It’s a fly through hub,” Syhre said. “We’ve been seeing some statistics on how it looks to go to Chicago as a fly through hub or a destination. Kind of like what we’re doing with Denver.”

To date, Syhre said that Watertown flights have had an over 90 percent completion rate.

“To put it blatantly, from 2010 to 2015, we never did see 90 percent completion factor with any of the airlines,” he said.

New runway ahead of schedule

While the airline continues to enjoy strong passenger numbers, airport and city officials are also pleased at the construction progress of the $8 million runway.

With the project currently in its first phase, construction crews are tearing out and rebuilding sub grade material in preparation to apply a 12-inch concrete overlay.

With an official completion date of Sept. 30, Syhre estimates that crews are about one week ahead of schedule.

“They’re doing a phenomenal job,” Syhre said. “We’ve had a lot of bluebird days. Very few rain showers have stopped them or held them up. The main runway is pretty much laid back in for the sub base.”

Engineer Bob Babcock from Helms and Associates in Aberdeen added that crews are anticipating to begin pouring concrete around the middle of June.

Original article can be found here:   http://www.thepublicopinion.com

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