SWEETWATER COUNTY — The Sweetwater County Commissioners unanimously approved and signed a letter of support for the Southwest Wyoming Regional Airport to apply for a United States Department of Transportation (DOT) grant for air service development during Tuesday’s meeting.
The airport is partnering with the Wyoming Department of Transportation (WYDOT) on a US DOT Small Community Air Service Development (SCASD) Grant application with Sheridan, Cheyenne, Riverton, and Gillette.
The grant will provide $1 million for a two-year marketing program with the consortia of communities, according to Devon Brubaker, Airport Director. The Southwest Wyoming Regional Airport will receive additional funding locally for marketing efforts that the airport will manage, as well as a statewide marketing program.
The airport will have partnerships with the Wyoming Department of Tourism, the chambers of commerce for each community, and travel and tourism within each county.
Brubaker said there will be no financial cost to the county or cities, as the airport has a marketing budget. The local match for the grant has already been budgeted for in the airport’s budget.
Capacity Purchase Agreement Amendments
The Commissioners also unanimously approved amendments made to the WYDOT Capacity Purchase Agreement (CPA) that the airport entered into in August 2019.
The Wyoming Commercial Service Capacity Purchase Program is an agreement between the airports in Sweetwater County, Gillette, Sheridan, and Riverton to operate under one airline. Instead of each community having its own contract with an airline, there is a MOU between the counties, the airline, and the State of Wyoming. The airline that was selected was SkyWest.
Due to the airports experiencing less demand for air travel amid the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic, they have not been able to maintain normal flight schedules the past several months. Therefore, one of the amendments made to the MOU allows the CPA committee to add or reduce flight service based on demand.
The other amendment was to acknowledge the utilization of Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding to fund air service.
According to Brubaker, two-thirds of the invoiced amount from SkyWest is covered by the CARES Act from March 1, 2020 through December 30, 2020.
The other one-third of the invoiced amount is split 60/40 between the state and Sweetwater County, as it normally is. The County then invoices the City of Green River 22 percent of their portion and Rock Springs 33 percent.
Brubaker said there is work being done to extend CARES Act funding.
Additionally, Brubaker said the Commercial Terminal Modernization project at the airport should begin construction by April 2021.