Green River Star -

By David Martin
Publisher 

Silver linings for area airport

 

April 15, 2020



As air service from the Southwest Wyoming Regional Airport is cut back due to the ongoing impacts from the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, the airport continues to find ways to make the best use of the situation.

The airport has had a 71 percent decrease in passengers on commercial flights in the past three weeks, with a 92 percent reduction in passengers compared to the same period last year. Devon Brubaker, director of the airport, said the airport is performing slightly better than the national average, which is seeing a 96 percent drop in commercial passengers compared to last year.

However, those declines have impacted the airport and resulted in United Airlines scaling back service to Denver to one flight per day, five days a week. The impact from COVID-19 is still yet to be determined, but is expected to have far-reaching effects.

“While we are still assessing the fiscal damage that COVID-19 has brought the airport, we are fairly confident that during the height of the situation we will see an 80 percent reduction in revenue,” Brubaker said. “We are anticipating that our revenues through (fiscal year 2021) will be down by around 42 percent.”

Despite the revenue reduction, Brubaker said he sees opportunities for the airport. One initiative would allow the airport to store aircraft. Brubaker said if airlines chose to, aircraft could be parked on aircraft aprons, taxiways and the crosswind runway if necessary.

“We only have one 25,000 square-foot hangar large enough to support some commercial aircraft,” Brubaker said. “The rest of our hangar space is for much smaller aircraft."

Other opportunities for the airport include the chance repave the its parking lot for the first time in a decade because so few vehicles are utilizing it. Brubaker also said he’s looking forward to the CARES Act, which includes provisions for regional airports that could be used to cover a “significant portion” of operating losses. It will also provide 100 percent funding on all fiscal year 2020 grants, increasing their federal funding by $198,000.

“This also results in WYDOT having the ability to fund additional projects since they will not be matching the FY2020 federal dollars. We have already seen the benefits of this with increased funding for our new $1.8 million fuel farm,” Brubaker said.

Brubaker also sees an opportunity to connect with potential customers.

“Normally, they are very busy managing their flight departments. With the lack of demand, they have more time to talk to us about business opportunities.”

 

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