Thursday, April 7, 2016

Early indications: No essential air service • Worland Municipal Airport (KWRL) left off list of new request for proposals, according to Wyoming Department of Transportation

WORLAND – Worland Mayor Dave Duffy met with two Aeronautics Division employees from the Wyoming Department of Transportation (WYDOT) and they told him Worland was left off the list of request for proposals for essential air service that had recently gone out.

The mayor announced his meeting with Dennis Byrne and Sheri Taylor at Tuesday night’s scheduled city council meeting.

He said they “weren’t very enthusiastic about our [Worland’s] possibility of receiving our EAS [essential air service] funding.

“That doesn’t mean it’s definitely dead, but it’s a pretty good indicator that it’s not going to happen,” Duffy said. He added, “They told me there has never been a community who has had the 1,100 per passenger subsidy that had their EAS funding restored.”

U.S. Department of Transportation Public Affairs Specialist Caitlin Harvey said, “We don’t have a timeline for a final decision yet, but I would say by summer,” in an email interview from late February.

In the city’s resolution to keep its EAS, it stated: “We earnestly desire the opportunity to acquire a more responsible carrier for the next contract cycle.”

In earlier interviews Worland Airport Manager Lynn Murdoch said, “A reliable carrier has a huge impact on our community providing safe, efficient transportation for our economic health and growth. This is particularly important in such a rural, sparsely populated area such as Wyoming.”

She said it is imperative that Worland be afforded equitable access to the national transportation systems without residents having to drive long distances.

Mayor Duffy earlier said the retention of the EAS is important because the city needs a service to attract residents from the surrounding counties, and our own, to fly out of here.

Background

Harvey also said, “Under the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, in order to be eligible for Essential Air Service (EAS), a community must have had an average subsidy per passenger of less than $1,000 during the most recent fiscal year, as determined by the Secretary of Transportation. Great Lakes Airlines has served Worland for many years and under the current contract since October 1, 2014. For Fiscal Year 2015, Great Lakes’ average per passenger subsidy was $1,100, putting it over the $1,000 per passenger limit,” in reference to why the tentative decision to terminate the service was decided.

The city and other interested parties had 20 days from the original issued order posting date on Feb. 4 to show cause as to why the service should not be terminated.

“If the Department finalizes the tentative findings in a subsequent Order, the Department would terminate Great Lakes’ contract at the end of its current term, September 30, 2016, to allow for an orderly shutdown of service,” Harvey said.

The possibility of Worland’s Municipal Airport essential air service being reinstated is unknown and Harvey said, “If Worland’s eligibility for EAS is ultimately terminated after the Department reviews all objections, there is no reinstatement provision for communities that lose eligibility for exceeding the $1,000 per passenger limit.”

The Daily News attempted to contact Harvey Wednesday. She could not be reached by press time. 

Original article can be found here: http://www.wyodaily.com

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