If everything goes according to plan, Gillette will be getting a third daily roundtrip flight to Denver starting in October.
Monday, the state Department of Transportation approved a contract with SkyWest Airlines to provide air service to four communities, including Gillette.
The four communities — Gillette, Sheridan, Riverton and Rock Springs — need to sign agreements in order for the contract to be fully executed.
Gillette-Campbell County Airport Director Jay Lundell said that starting in October, there will be three flights four days a week. That will continue through the end of the year. In January and February, it will drop to two daily flights, then go back to three flights in March.
Lundell doesn’t know the exact time of the third flight, but he said it will arrive in Gillette from Denver in the late afternoon.
“I”m pretty excited about it,” Lundell said. “At the very least, it should be a good inbound flight.”
Lundell said traffic has been down so far this year compared to 2018, mainly because the airport lost its third flight last summer. But it’s been filling up the flights that it does have. So far this month, the airport has had a load factor of 91%. In other words, the average flight has been 91% full.
Here is how the flights will line up:
- There will be two daily roundtrip flights in January and February.
- March through May and September through December, there will be three flights four days a week — Monday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday — and two flights the other three days of the week.
- June through August, there will be three daily flights six days a week, with Saturday being the only day with two flights.
WYDOT told the Sheridan Press it could not make the contract public until the four communities signed a memorandum of understanding.
In April, WYDOT announced that SkyWest won the initial bidding for the capacity purchase agreement, beating out Denver Air Connection.
State Sen. Michael Von Flatern, R-Gillette, said “it feels great” to be at this point. He sponsored a bill during the 2018 legislative session that got the conversation started on reliable air service statewide.
“I was expecting more community push back, because they do like the reliability of Denver Air Connection, but DAC could not expand,” he said.
Denver Air Connection served Sheridan and Riverton.
SkyWest would fly under the United Airlines banner, as it does now in Gillette, so nothing should change for Campbell County, other than the added flight, Lundell said.
Other communities can join in at any time, Von Flatern said. Cody and Laramie, which rely on federal subsidies for their flights, would know a year or two in advance if that federal money is going to end, and would have enough time to work something out and join the program.
The contract does not prevent Gillette from trying to get flights to other destinations.