State grant for airline confirmed for new year

Jan 25, 2017 By Daniel Bendtsen, Staff Writer

The Fremont Air Service Task Force is working with Denver Air on a new deal to serve Riverton Regional Airport.

The Wyoming Aeronautics Commission has renewed a $1.1 million grant for Riverton to help secure a new contract with Denver Air Connection for the 2018 fiscal year.

The grant was also awarded in 2016 and has comprised almost 60 percent of Denver Air's $2 million minimum revenue guarantee -- a sum set aside annually to ensure the new airline breaks even each year serving Riverton Regional Airport.

The governments of Fremont County, Riverton and Lander each contributed $200,000 to that guarantee for the initial one-year contract, which had the airline begin flying out of Riverton on July 1.

No new local funding has been earmarked for a new guarantee, but the grant from the state is a major step for securing a new contract, because subsidies are required while the airline develops its market.

The Fremont Air Service Task Force is working with Denver Air on a new deal, which ultimately will go before Riverton City Council for approval.

The city owns Riverton Regional, which is Fremont County's only airport with commercial air service.

Denver Air's growth has plateaued recently, with around 300 boardings each month since September.

Missy White, who chairs the task force, predicted boardings would rise again after sales rebounded this month.

The airline broke its record for a sales day on Jan. 9, which was followed by another record-breaking day on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the county's established carrier, Great Lakes Airlines, continues to grow its business each month after boardings hit a low of 115 in August.

"High tide raises all boats," Riverton Airport Board vice chair Mick Pryor said.

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