CHEYENNE — Air carriers interested in serving rural Wyoming communities have until Dec. 20 to submit materials to the state for consideration.
The Wyoming Aeronautics Commission released a request for proposals to potential bidders last month, after members of the Wyoming Air Service Improvement Council helped design the document earlier this year.
During the council’s latest meeting Wednesday in Gillette, Wyoming Department of Transportation Director Bill Panos said a number of airlines have already downloaded the RFP. “We are on track in the first quarter of 2019 to go ahead and start selecting the airline and start negotiations,” he said.
Some of this information, including which carriers responded, will be public record upon this deadline. A selection committee comprised primarily of consultants and state officials is responsible for choosing which airline will move forward to negotiations.
A short list of finalists will be developed by late January, with presentations, negotiations and final decisions being made in early spring. The council was established by the Legislature this year to find providers for community airports reliant on the Air Service Enhancement Program, which dissolves July 1, 2019. Council metrics included in the new state plan include long-term performance, reliability, average airfare costs and overall financial performance of airlines.
The chosen carrier would provide up to three daily flights to and from Denver International Airport from airports that join the agreement, which would cost the state $15 million over 10 years. Through the program, the state would offer minimum revenue guarantee funding for a capacity purchase agreement with an airline, prioritizing code-share agreements with other airlines that would ease travelers’ ability to connect to other destinations.
By Chrissy Suttles
Wyoming Tribune Eagle Via Wyoming News Exchange