Airport Authority hopes for airline options as boardings continue to decline

Dave Strang/nrrmews/KNEB

The number of boardings from Great Lakes Aviation at Western Nebraska Regional Airport continues to decline as the period begins for airlines to bid for the essential air services route that serves Scottsbluff with flights to and from Denver.

Figures presented at the Scotts Bluff County Airport Authority meeting today indicate the number of Great Lakes flights departing monthly from the airport have declined steadily since November, with only 32 departing in March, a fourth of what Great Lakes operated in November. The reduction is due to new federal pilot safety and training rules that have left Great Lakes with only 78 pilots.

Airport Manager Darwin Skelton says it is especially frustrating because he knows if the airport had an airline that provided consistent affordable service 20-25,000 boardings a year is possible. There have only been 1,232 boardings from Great Lakes through April 15th when normally it is double that at this time.

Skelton says he expects Great Lakes to bid again to serve the Scottsbluff route, although it may do so with a smaller nine passenger plane. Skelton says he is also hopeful SkyWest bids, which would give the airport a viable replacement option. Skelton says they should know who has expressed written interest by no later than the first of June. The current contract expires October 1st.

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