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Cheyenne airport

Report: Wyoming Airports Contribute $2 Billion To Economy

in News/Economy

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

Wyoming’s 34 airports generate more than $2 billion in economic activity each year, according to a Wyoming Department of Transportation study.

The department’s 2020 review of the economic impact of Wyoming’s airports, the first conducted since 2013, also showed that the airports generate $87.7 million per year in state and local tax revenues.

The study bases its measurement of economic activity on the payroll paid employees of airports and related businesses and those arriving at or leaving from the airports and the annual spending by airports, related businesses and passengers.

It is based on figures from late 2019 and early 2020, before the coronavirus led to travel restrictions. The study was released to the public this week.

The study found that since 2013, the amount of annual economic activity linked to airports around the state has grown by about $600 million.

Some airports around the state saw “notable growth” between 2013 and 2020, while others experienced “relative declines,” the study said.

“Airports that experienced notable changes in their economic impacts generally either gained or lost one or more aviation-related business tenant, had higher or lower average annual capital investment for improvements, or had increases or decreases in their number of annual visitors,” it said.

The largest share of the economic impact from Wyoming’s airports came from visitors to the state’s nine commercial airports, defined as publicly owned airports that receive scheduled passenger service and at least 2,500 passenger boardings per year.

The study said visitors to the airports in Casper, Cheyenne, Cody, Gillette, Jackson, Laramie, Riverton, Rock Springs and Sheridan spend almost $543.8 million per year and generate $1.2 billion in economic activity.

The airport seeing the most visitors by far was the Jackson Hole Airport with 397,468 visitors per year, followed by Natrona County International Airport with 42,162.

The Jackson Hole Airport was also the airport with the biggest share of economic activity by all sectors at $1.3 billion. The Cheyenne Regional Airport was second at total economic impact of $205 million.

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Cheyenne To Receive Commercial Air Service Again In the Fall

in News/aviation

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Wyoming’s largest city will soon have a working commercial airport again.

United Airlines is adding a daily flight between Cheyenne and Denver starting on November 11. The United flight, operated by SkyWest Airlines, will fly to Denver in the morning and return to Cheyenne in the evening.

According to United’s website, flyers can buy tickets on the Denver-Cheyenne route for as low as $42 one-way.

Wendy Volk, president of the Cheyenne Regional Air Focus Team, welcomed Sunday’s news.

“This is a wonderful restoration of our freedom to enjoy the convenience of flying from home. And it’s just in time for the holidays,” Volk said.

“It’s also a validation of the fact that, for 18 months after opening the new terminal, Cheyenne had the fastest-growing small airport in the country. The people supported and showed they truly want air service here,” she said.

The upcoming Cheyenne flight is subsidized under the federal government’s essential air service program. SkyWest previously served the city from Dallas/Fort Worth for American Airlines but appears to be switching the service to United.

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Cheyenne Loses Air Service Due to Coronavirus

in News/Coronavirus

The City of Cheyenne will lose air service beginning April 6. Airport Director Tim Barth made the announcement late Wednesday on its Facebook page.

“Cheyenne air service will be temporarily suspended as of April 6th due to the unprecedented economic and social effects of the coronavirus.

“This disappointing news follows a string of successes. Since launching round-trip American Eagle flights operated by SkyWest Airlines to Dallas-Fort Worth on November 4, 2018, Cheyenne’s commercial air service has drawn over 40,000 passengers.

“That number is way beyond industry projections,” says Airport Director Tim Barth. “Cheyenne is definitively on the map in terms of air service in a way that it hasn’t been in years.”

“The community’s embrace of the route and the new airport terminal is what have made them such big successes,” adds Wendy Volk, President of CRAFT. “That’s why once the dust settles, and the U.S. economy recovers, our community’s air service will too.”

“While air service is expected to return, there’s no timeline yet. As of now, flights will be suspended on April 6, 2020. The last flight before the pause will be from Cheyenne to DFW that morning. The National Guard and non-commercial general aviation are not affected at this point.

“This news comes as the news surrounding the COVID-19 coronavirus continues to unfold. A significant number of domestic commercial flights are being cancelled. The nationwide reduction in routes is having a dramatic negative impact on all airports.

“The decision to pause service until further notice was jointly arrived at by the Cheyenne Regional Airport and American Eagle operated by SkyWest.

“The economic ramifications of this situation are beyond anyone’s control,” says Barth. “However, our duty to the health and safety of passengers, and to fiduciary good sense, makes this difficult decision a little easier.”

“Some flights may still appear as bookable online, but those are in the process of being taken out of the system.

“The Cheyenne Regional Airport will provide updates as events develop.”

Fighter Jets Take Off From Cheyenne Airport

in Photography

You never know what type of aircraft you’ll see on the runway at the Cheyenne Airport.

On Sunday afternoon, cars lined up to watch three fighter jets take off from the airport. Readers told us these were Boeing EA-18G Growlers.

Whatever they were, they were fun to watch and made you feel patriotic. Enjoy the video!

Hurricane Winds Can’t Stop Commercial Air Service From Cheyenne to Dallas

in Column/Bill Sniffin

By Bill Sniffin

Three cheers for that direct daily flight from Cheyenne to Dallas.

We took it for the second time over New Year’s and it is just so doggone handy. It is almost a miracle to me.

We live in Lander, some 250 miles from Cheyenne, so why am I am so psyched about this service?  Because, to me, it is personal.

Driving to Cheyenne works fine because we go through the capital city and head to Denver to see my 95-year old mother in a nursing home there.  We also have two brothers, a granddaughter, and a nephew living in the Denver area. It is fun to reconnect with them during the holiday season. 

Our youngest daughter lives in north Dallas, just 45 miles from the DFW airport, so they can come pick us up after we land. We enjoyed the New Year’s holiday and spent five days basking in 60-degree weather, while Wyoming was blowing and shivering.

Cabin of jet was full for the flight from Dallas to Cheyenne. 

Another reason for liking the flight is because it is a direct flight. However, we talked with two other Wyomingites who used the flight as part of more complicated trips.

Deb Hughes lives at Esterbrook near Douglas. Most recently her husband took a one-year assignment in Guernsey where they live right now.  She liked the service being so local. It was a springboard for her to visit relatives in Florida and Virginia.

Amber Rucker, a social worker at the Cheyenne Veterans Hospital, used the flight as a way to ultimately get to Mississippi. She flew out on New Year’s Day and came back Jan. 6. “Whew those winds were high in Cheyenne,” she said. She was impressed that the pilots handled the planes so well during the takeoffs and landings.

She said Interstate 25 was closed on the day she left, so had she booked her flight through Denver, she would have been unable to go. 

A little over a year ago, when I first heard about Cheyenne offering daily airline service to and from Dallas, I was skeptical.

With local, state, and federal help, a brand new terminal had been built in Cheyenne for what appeared to be non-existent airlines. It was seemingly a Wyoming version of the famous Alaska bridge to nowhere.

It was the airline terminal with no airline service.

Deb Hughes of Guernsey gets set to board plane in Dallas for the trip to Cheyenne.

Then some hard-working folks came up with the idea of non-stop daily service to Dallas, subsidized by local, state, and federal funds.

When I told my Lander friends that we were going to fly that route over New Year’s, they thought we were crazy. 

In recent years we have started a holiday tradition of celebrating an early holiday with our Lander-based daughter Shelli Johnson and her family. Then we plan our flight to Dallas over New Year’s, trying to be in two places at once over the holidays.

We chose to fly on New Year’s Eve day this year with two round trip tickets costing about $580.  It might have been cheaper flying from Denver but if you add in highway tolls, parking fees, and the hassle associated with DIA, well, it made going out of Cheyenne seem like a good choice. No regrets.

American Airlines uses 50-passenger jets. On our trip out of Cheyenne, they upgraded to a 70-seat plane for some reason. Lots of extra seats available, which made the trip super comfortable.

The trip home from Dallas to Cheyenne was on the smaller 50-passenger jet with 47 passengers.  Just two hours. Super convenient. The folks working the Cheyenne airport are great, too. Never seen TSA folks smile as much as that crew.

Overall, I would say this is a great experience.

It seems to me that Colorado’s Front Range folks might drive to Cheyenne to save money and avoid the big airport hassle.  Folks from all over Wyoming, Nebraska, and Colorado are potential travelers out of this airport. 

I’ve been told the next effort should be daily flights from Cheyenne to Salt Lake City and even Denver.  I wonder if they have made a pitch to Allegiant? Now that would be quite a coup. The airline future will be bright for Cheyenne with proper regional promotion.

Cheyenne’s airline past is storied.  United Airlines originally had its main maintenance facility here in Wyoming.  The very first flight attendant school started in Cheyenne in 1930 by Boeing Air Transport.

For over a decade, Cheyenne was headquarters for the large regional airline, Great Lakes Airlines.

Yes, there is a fantastic history of commercial aviation in Cheyenne. With flights like the one we took and future flights on the drawing board, it will be fun to see Cheyenne’s airline experience soar into the future.

Check out additional columns at www.billsniffin.com. He has published six books.  His coffee table book series has sold 34,000 copies. You can find more stories by Bill Sniffin by going to CowboyStateDaily.com.

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