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Air boardings have a bad start in 2013
A Great Lakes Airlines Beech 1900 fired up the engines Sunday morning at Riverton Regional Airport. Passengers boardings were behind last year's pace through February. Photo by Steve Peck

Air boardings off to a bad start for 2013

Mar 19, 2013 - By Alejandra Silva, Staff Writer

Fewer passengers have boarded airplanes at Riverton Regional Airport so far this year compared to last year's numbers. "That's reason for concern," public services director Bill Urbigkit told airport board members at their meeting last Friday.

By February of 2012, almost 2,000 travelers boarded a flight at RIW, but through February this year only 918 passengers have boarded an aircraft at the airport.

The difference amounts to more than 1,000 passengers.

The same results apply to passengers getting off of airplanes at Riverton Regional.

As a result of the statistics, the city is looking into ways to increase enplanement numbers and convince more passengers to select RIW for their flights.

Urbigkit said one person has suggested "aggressive marketing". At the airport board meeting, an "advertising campaign" idea was also discussed and favored.

"We just sit back and assume that people are going to use the airport," Urbigkit said. "Those numbers don't seem to indicate that's working."

Airport station manager Clyde Weisbeck also expressed some concern about the numbers being low, especially since the 30-passenger Embraer-120 Brasilia aircraft will be flying in and out of Riverton Regional more often now.

Frequent flyers

Urbigkit said funding for marketing could be acquired through grants from WyDOT's Aeronautics Division. Their Air Service program oversees marketing projects through the Capital Improvement Project.

They also discussed sending the message that they have reasonable rates to get people to their connecting flights.

Bruce Kamminga, the newest member of the board who also is a general aviation pilot and the owner and operator of Specialty Marine and ORV Repair in Riverton, suggested marketing more for the tourist rather than the business traveler. Urbigkit responded that in the past it has been concluded that the most common type of passenger at RIW is the business traveler.

In determining what causes these decreases, the economic downturn has come up several times, but board member Cindy Olson says there are more reasons.

"It's that trickle down effect where it's finally, I think, hitting here where a lot of people are choosing to go to Casper because of reliability," she said.

Olson, a travel agent, said many people select a different airport because of that.

Board member Dean Peranteaux reccommended some improvements had to be done before going forward with the marketing.

"I think we need to use a little bit of caution that if we're going to spend money advertising that we need to make sure that we can fulfill the claim," he said. "The feedback that I hear all the time is overwhelmingly (that) the flight is always late."

Urbigkit agreed with Peranteaux and suggested they bring in a Great Lakes representative and work together on the initiative.

"Now is the time to advertise," Urbigkit told the board. "I see out in the horizon nothing but good things going on in Riverton."

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