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Airport board prepares response to Essential Air Service proposals

A response to the two bids on Essential Air Service to Jamestown Regional Airport has been drafted, calling Great Lakes Aviation's proposal "vastly preferable" to that of Sovereign Air.

However, the letter -- presented at Wednesday's meeting of the Jamestown Regional Airport Authority -- does ask some questions about the Great Lakes bid for Jamestown's EAS contract.

EAS uses federal funds to subsidize commercial flights to small communities.

"Much has changed since Great Lakes Aviation served our community ... and the performance level of 'consumer expectation' has been significantly raised by the recent excellent performance by (previous EAS contract holder) Mesaba/Delta Connection," the draft letter said.

It also praises the Mesaba/ Delta Connection's "adherence to schedule, dependability, and overall customer satisfaction, which resulted in re-capturing some lost market share."

The letter expresses concern about a line in the Great Lakes proposal stating Jamestown's proposal could be combined with Devils Lake's EAS proposal -- resulting in far fewer seats available for Jamestown boardings.

"If Great Lakes 'considers' this option, Jamestown withdraws its conditional approval of the Great Lakes Aviation proposal until an acceptable solution is developed," the letter warns.

Currently Jamestown and Devils Lake share 68 seats per day. If Jamestown and Devils Lake are not combined, the Great Lakes proposal would give Jamestown 57 seats per day on its own.

The letter also questions whether passengers will be able to use Delta frequent flyer miles or be booked using Delta Vacations when they leave from the Jamestown Regional Airport.

Great Lakes Aviation's bid for EAS was approximately $1.9 million, similar to the previous EAS contract with Mesaba/Delta.

Sovereign's offer was considered less preferable because of a lack of information provided to the airport authority, the draft letter said.

The final draft of the letter will be signed by Jim Boyd as chairman of the airport authority, Katie Andersen as mayor of Jamestown and Matthew Leitner, the airport's manager. It will then be sent to Dennis DeVany, chief of the Essential Air Service Division of the Office of Aviation Analysis of the U.S. Department of Transportation.

"When we started out on this project ... our goal was to minimize the number of negative changes to us, and I think we've somewhat accomplished that," Boyd said.

In other news Wednesday, the airport authority:

* received a report from Steve Aldinger, project engineer with Interstate Engineering, stating the terminal project was $3,119.59 over its projected budget.

Aldinger also presented requests for $8,936 in change orders for the project, which were approved by the board.

Of the total project cost of $2,382,017.59, the Federal Aviation Administration is paying for $1,808,576, the North Dakota Aeronautics Commission is paying for $282,914 and the JRA is paying for $290,527.59.

The new terminal will open Dec. 15.

* met the airport's newest employee, Ben Maulding, a full-time operations and maintenance technician/aircraft rescue fire fighter.

* increased Leitner's salary by 4 percent following an above-average performance review.

* learned commercial boardings were up to 525 for the month of October, compared to 406 in the previous year.

Sun reporter Kari Lucin can be reached at 701-952-8453

or by email at

Kari Lucin

Kari Lucin joined the Grand Forks Herald as a multimedia producer in August 2014. Previously, she worked for a few years at the Jamestown Sun in Jamestown, N.D., as a staff writer, and prior to that, for about six years as staff writer and later online content coordinator, at the Daily Globe in Worthington, Minn. A graduate of Jackson County Central High School and Augsburg College, she has a bachelor's degree in philosophy and English. Find more of her writing at her blog, Oh Look, a Shiny Thing! or on Twitter at @karilucin.

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