SWEETWATER COUNTY– Rock Springs-Sweetwater County Airport Manager Devon Brubaker and Wyoming Department of Transportation Aeronautics Administrator Amy Surdam gave a presentation to the community on the future of air service in Wyoming on Wednesday, January 24, at an air service town hall meeting.
Brubaker and Surdam explained the importance and direct correlation air service has on Wyoming’s economic advancement. Surdam presented the video below to show just how important air service is to the state’s economy.
“Aviation is really critical to the state of Wyoming,” Surdam said. She said that air service contributes about $1.2 billion to the state, annually.
Wyoming Currently Receives $35 Million for Air Services
The issue is, Wyoming’s air service is facing serious funding issues. Rock Springs-Sweetwater County Airport currently receives its funding from the Air Service Enhancement Program (ASEP).
ASEP, which is funded through Senate File 120, grants $35 million to air services in the state. Cody and Jackson Hole use this program to boost tourism industries, while Riverton, Sheridan, and Rock Springs use it for primary services.
Rock Springs currently uses it for its United Airlines jet service to Denver.
State Will Only Receive $1.3 Million for Air Services Starting July 2019
However, due to cuts in funding, the ASEP will only be able to grant $1.3 million to the state starting July 1, 2019. This would leave communities to either pay for the services themselves, or to no longer have air services, which would be drastic for the state’s economy.
The Aeronautics Division of WYDOT has come up with a plan to help with funding air service across the state, and this plan is the Commercial Air Service Plan (CASP).
WYDOT’s 10-Year Plan to Improve Air Services
CASP would implement a 10-year plan aimed at improving commercial air service in Wyoming. The plan would be created by a council, which will be made up of 11 voting members and 4 nonvoting members.
The airlines in the state will negotiate a 10-year purchasing contract with the council.
The council must develop a plan by August 1, 2018, and submit it to the Governor for approval. The council will disband by March 15, 2019, leaving the Aeronautics Commission in charge of all obligations and duties.
ENDOW’s Executive Council Recommends $15 Million for CASP
The Executive Council for the Economically Needed Diversity Options for Wyoming (ENDOW) Initiative supports adding WYDOT’s CASP to the ASEP, and recommends the Wyoming Legislature appropriate $15 million to implement CASP.
Surdam explained that CASP is contingent on the legislature funding the $1.3 million through ASEP, and ENDOW requesting the $15 million to implement CASP.
If this bill is passed, CASP should be fully implemented by July 1, 2019.
Brubaker explained that if the plan fails, the state and the Rock Springs airport will be exactly where they are at today. However, if the plan succeeds, it could bring in more revenue to the community.
In turn, the Rock Springs airport could pick up more destinations and provide more services.
Governor Mead to Address ENDOW’s Recommendations
ENDOW’s January Executive Council meeting is currenty underway, taking place January 25-26 in Cheyenne at Laramie County Community College. Governor Matt Mead is scheduled to address ENDOW’s recommendations tomorrow, January 26, at 11 am.