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DOT awards 2018-20 contract to SkyWest

The U.S. Department of Transportation has awarded the Essential Air Service contract for 2018-20 for the Jamestown and Devils Lake regional airports to SkyWest Airlines. John M. Steiner / The Sun File Photo

The U.S. Department of Transportation awarded the Essential Air Service contract for Jamestown Regional Airport to SkyWest Airlines this week.

The Jamestown Regional Airport Authority discussed the EAS contract award at its meeting Wednesday.

This is the third time the DOT has given SkyWest Airlines the EAS contract for Jamestown and Devils Lake regional airports. The contract's terms are SkyWest Airlines, using United Express' 50-set jet aircraft and flight crews, provide 12 flights a week between Denver International Airport and the Jamestown and Devils Lake airports. SkyWest will receive $2.69 million a year for providing commercial passenger service to Jamestown Regional Airport. This subsidy amount is down from the current 2016-18 EAS contract, which has a subsidy of $2.79 million for SkyWest.

SkyWest will receive $3.93 million a year to provide service to Devils Lake Regional Airport, which is also down from the current contract in which the airline receives $3.97 million.

Sam Seafeldt, Jamestown Regional Airport director, said SkyWest was able to take less of a subsidy because the paid passenger boarding numbers at both airports have done well since SkyWest started offering commercial passenger jet service in June 2014.

Seafeldt said SkyWest also included $20,000 annually to each airport for marketing.

"It hasn't been decided how that money will be used," he said. "That will be a July 1 type of thing; that is when the new contract starts."

Seafledt said the consistency of having SkyWest continue to provide the commercial jet passenger service is a plus for Jamestown. He said the airline is benefiting as well by having continued paid passenger boarding growth since starting in Jamestown and Devils Lake.

"People were used to flying in and out of Minneapolis," he said. "Now we're getting that same consistency with Denver, and hopefully we can get that same kind of relationship going as well."

Mayor Katie Andersen, airport authority chairman, said having SkyWest win the EAS contract for a third time is exciting news for Jamestown.

"We've been incredibly pleased with the service from SkyWest," she said, "That has created the record boardings we're experiencing every month. We hope that continues for the next two years."

Andersen said having consistent passenger service between Denver and Jamestown has been a boon for businesses in and near Jamestown. She said the economic impact of being able to fly in and out of Jamestown goes far beyond the impact to the airport and airline.

"That affects every business in town," she said. "When people stay in town, those dollars are staying here and not going to other locations."

When businesses are considering Jamestown, Andersen said they look at how their employees can get here and how easily executives can check in on how the business is doing.

"This isn't just about the city," she said. "There is quite a wide circle that the airport casts around the region. We provide a service that other communities need in our area."

Chris Olson

Hometown: Traverse City, MI College: Northwestern Michigan College and Michigan State University

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