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Support growing for SkyWest Airlines to serve Jamestown

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news Jamestown, 58401
Jamestown North Dakota 121 3rd St NW 58401

Jamestown Regional Airport has received 125 pieces of correspondence on the two bids the U.S. Department of Transportation received to provide passenger airline service starting on April 1.

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The Jamestown Regional Airport Authority discussed Wednesday the bids received by Great Lakes Airlines and SkyWest Airlines to provide passenger service to Jamestown. Airport Manager Matt Leitner said the airport receives passenger service under the Federal Aviation Administration’s Essential Air Service program. In exchange for providing service to an EAS program airport, the airline receives a subsidy from the FAA.

Great Lakes Airlines currently provides passenger service between Devils Lake and Jamestown and Minneapolis. This contract expires on March 31. Great Lakes Airlines is one of the two bidders to offer the service from April 1, 2014, to March 31, 2016. The airline has bid three flights daily from Devils Lake/Jamestown to Minneapolis on a 19-seat turbo-prop airplane. Great Lakes Airlines offers a partial code share with Delta Airlines.

SkyWest Airlines has bid one flight from Denver to Jamestown daily on a 50-seat jet airplane. SkyWest offers full code share with United Airlines. Leitner said the full code share means people will be able to book flights out of Jamestown through United’s website and through third-party travel websites like Travelocity.

“It means if your flight from Jamestown is canceled, United will book you on a flight out of Fargo or Bismarck so you can continue on your travels,” Leitner said.

The majority of people who have sent the airport letters or emails about the bids have favored SkyWest.

“People are excited at the possibility of having jet service back in Jamestown,” Leitner said.

Airport Authority Chairman Jim Boyd said so far the Jamestown/Stutsman Development Corp. has sent a letter of support for SkyWest.

Mayor Katie Andersen, the City Council representative on the Airport Authority, said on Monday the council authorized her to write a letter of support for SkyWest.

The South Central Dakota Regional Council Executive Committee at its meeting Wednesday authorized Executive Director Deb Kantrud to write a letter of support for the SkyWest bid.

Airport Authority member Keith Veil said the authority should get the word out about how much more expedient it is to fly out of Denver versus Minneapolis.

Leitner said comments will be taken through the end of the month. He will organize all the comments and then send them to the DOT on Jan. 6. He said DOT officials have told him it usually takes about 30 days after the DOT has received the comments for a decision to be made.

Leitner said he appreciates that so many people are taking the time to offer comments.

In other business, the Airport Authority approved the final specifications and plans for a 10-bay tee hangar. The authority tied 3-3 on a vote to advertise for bids for the project, with Andersen and members Brent Harris and Wayne Mathson opposed. Andersen said she couldn’t support seeking bids for the project without knowing how the Airport Authority will finance it. Andersen, Harris and Mathson said they support the hangar project, but want the authority to get the financing in place before advertising for bids. The Airport Authority also appointed Andersen, Vice Chairman Jeff Wilhelm and Leitner to a committee charged with bringing a recommendation for financing the project to the authority at its Jan. 15 meeting.

Sun reporter Chris Olson can be reached at 701-952-8454 or by email at colson@jamestownsun.com

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