ROCK SPRINGS – SkyWest announced Jet service will start at the Rock Springs/Sweetwater County Airport Feb. 1. During the board meeting on Wednesday, the board spoke about this and several other issues around this including losing the flight to Salt Lake.
Air travel has been an up and down ride for the residents of Sweetwater County and the Rock Springs/Sweetwater County Airport. At the peak several years ago, the airport had three flights to Denver, one to Salt Lake with a connection to Gillette.
To bring a flight to Salt Lake, the state and Sweetwater County Commissioners entered into an agreement with SkyWest which would subsidize the flight. From that, the communities of Rock Springs and Green River entered into an agreement with the county to help cover the costs.
Over the years, the SkyWest subsidy has continued to climb. Due to the high costs of the subsidy, a flight to Denver had to be dropped. Most recently, the county and communities again had to adjust budgets to cover the rising cost of the subsidy.
With the announcement of jet service starting on Feb. 1, the subsidy agreement will drop from a little over $2 million to approximately $700,000. With it, the airport loses it’s Salt Lake flight.
At the airport board meeting on Wednesday, Chairman Dr. Sigsbee Duck addressed this. Duck said he understands the frustration of the public because the board is also very frustrated over losing this flight. Duck said one thing the public should be aware of and keep in mind is to keep the Salt Lake flight, it would have raised the subsidy up $3.2 million to $3.3 million just for that one flight.
“I hate to lose the Salt Lake City flight just like everyone else,” Duck said.
On Wednesday, SkyWest officially announced jet service would start Feb. 1.
“SkyWest’s United Express flights between Rock Springs and Denver will upgrade to jet service beginning Feb. 1, 2015. The twice-daily flights will be operated using the CRJ200 Canadair Regional Jet, providing quick, convenient service to Denver. Customers may book today at www.united.com,” the SkyWest statement said.
With jet service starting, board member Jerry Klein said he thought it would be appropriate to have a reception for the public to be part of the change.
Shannon Lucero told Klein the Promotion Committee has been discussing it and have set money aside to do a public reception but nothing was set in stone.
During the discussion about the switch, Duck also praised fellow board member Dave Hanks for all the work he has done on this.
“He has really went above and beyond helping the airport on this,” Duck said.