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Airport count solid; bigger plane returns for a flight per day

Nov 25, 2012 - By Alejandra Silva, Staff Writer

Changes in both the daily flight schedule and the equipment are set for Riverton Regional Airport.

Great Lakes Airlines is returning the 30-passenger Embraer-120 Brasilia aircraft for one flight per day to and from the airport, while the remaining two flights will continue to use the 19-seat Beechcraft 1900.

The Brasilia had been discontinued at Riverton Regional last year after a couple of years when the bigger plane was used for the majority of the local flights. The Brasilia can fly higher and faster than the Beech 1900, which is expected to allow passengers to make up lost time brought about by the later departure time for some flights (see below).

Meanwhile, new passenger numbers show boardings and arrivals down about 8 percent from 2011 through 10 months of the year. But the airport already has surpassed the desired 10,000 annual boardings by a comfortable margin (see chart).

The 10,000 level is required for the airport to receive a substantial federal grant each year.

The passenger decline is due largely to a decrease in the number of daily flights to three this year. Last year saw four flights per day for part of the week. In October, for example, Great Lakes scheduled 16 fewer flights to Riverton than it flew in October 2011. The passenger "load factor" on a flight-by-flight basis this year actually is higher than 2011 levels.

While boardings are down by about 8 percent, scheduled flights have decreased by more than 14 percent.

Schedule

Starting in December, two Great Lakes Airlines flights will leave 15 minutes later than previously scheduled, and two are set to arrive or leave 51 minutes later.

The new departure times:

- Flight 7291 will depart to Denver at 7:36 a.m., and flight 7293 departs at 12:12 p.m.

- New arrival times from Denver are 7:25 a.m. from Wor-land for flight 7291, and 11:57 a.m. from Denver for flight 7292.

Flights 7293 and 7292 are Monday through Friday flights. The changes made for flights 7291 are for Sundays only.

One flight arrives from Worland Municipal Airport and continues on to Denver a few minutes later after boarding River-ton passengers.

Flight tracker

Riverton Regional is considering upgrades to it "flight tracker" service on the airport's website. Airport division manager Paul Griffin said the airport was contacted recently by Flight View, which offered a quote of $4,680 for a customized flight-tracking service. Griffin said that price is more than the cost of the entire website, and he is negotiating for a better price before committing to the full program.

A link to a more generic website exists to allow passengers to check the status of their flights.

The website also lets people book a flight on the website, and the city earns a small income from that. This year, about 16,000 flights have been booked through this service, earning $396 for the city.

Airport survey

If you've flown in or out of the airport lately, Great Lakes may have handed you a survey. The airline is giving commercial passengers chance to complete a survey with every flight. The Wyoming Aeronautics Division is conducting a Wyoming Aviation Economic Impact Study to determine the economic contributions associated with the airport throughout the state.

After the year-long survey project is complete, the packets will be handed over to the aeronautics division for analysis, and results will be provided to the city.

Griffin said there has been a positive response from passengers, and many are giving the airport a high importance ranking regarding the need for scheduled commercial airline service in Fremont County.

New facility planning

By 2023 the proposed Wyoming Aviation Capital Improvement Plan for the airport has included the construction of a building to house snow removal equipment, police and fire department equipment, a meeting room, offices, and an emergency or disaster room.

The plan also envisions structural and runway improvements in several other areas within the next 14 years.

Riverton Regional is Fremont County's only commercial airport.

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Editor's note: Publisher Steve Peck contributed to this story.

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