Airport officials fear short annual boarding numbers

The magic number of 10,000 boardings at Western Nebraska Regional airport in order to get $1 million in federal improvement funds may be in jeopardy already considering January and February figures. If they fail to meet the 10,000 boarding number, they will instead receive $150,000 in federal funds.

Airport Manager Darwin Skelton says he has very big concerns now that they won't meet their 10,000 number. They boarded 378 passengers in January, under half the normal average of 750. And in February, they have only boarded 233 passengers, where they normally board 700. Great Lakes has flown only 42 total flights so far this year. Skelton says they are hoping to get a moratorium from the FAA that would allow them to use 2013 boarding numbers for 2014.

Skelton says Great Lakes Airlines has already been given approval from the FAA to fly a smaller, 9 passenger aircraft under an Air Charter Operator Part 135 Certification designation, which will ease recent restrictions on pilot training and hours required to accommodate scheduled flights. The airline also dropped 16 cities from it's route map to ease the pilot shortage.

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