Airport board tilting toward name change; wants public input on itSep 17, 2017 By Daniel Bendtsen, Staff Writer
Members of the Riverton Regional Airport board signaled their intent Friday to move forward with a name change for the airport, but they don't want to make any decisions before receiving feedback from the public.
The board has universal support among its members to change the facility's name to Wind River Regional Airport but is waiting for any concerned residents to voice their opinions during a regular meeting in October.
The board is also hoping to get feedback from outside groups, including officials from Lander, Dubois and Fremont County.
Airport board meetings usually receive little public attendance.
"Unfortunately we sit in a vacuum in this room as far as hearing some resistance," board vice chairman Mick Pryor said.
Before the next meeting, city staff is expected to estimate of what it would cost to replace the airport's signage to accommodate a name change.
The Federal Aviation Administration would have to approve the name change also, but public works director Kyle Butterfield said that, as long as the airport's three letter code -- RIW -- doesn't change, there shouldn't be a problem.
Ultimately, Riverton's city council will have final say on approving the change.
Wind River brand
Board members first proposed the name change last month to align the airport with the Wind River "brand," which Fremont County's visitor council uses to market itself.
Ernie Over, who is part of a citizen group known as the Fremont Air Service Task Force, said the name change would allow the city to "ride the coattails" of the Wind River Visitors Council's tourism marketing efforts.
"Wind River is now an internationally known brand," Over said.
The board is also hoping a name-change would encourage more "buy-in" from local governments that consider airport funding to be primarily a responsibility of the city of Riverton.
The airport has been responsible for providing $2 million each year as a "minimum revenue guarantee" for its new fledgling airline, Denver Air Connection, to ensure the company breaks even.
After Denver Air began its Riverton service in July 2016, the governments of Riverton, Lander and Fremont County each provided $200,000 for the guarantee in the first year.
The airport board had hoped that same level of contribution would be forthcoming again in the current fiscal year. Fremont County, however, only put up $150,000, while Lander provided $100,000.
Denver Air had a record month in August, with 452 passenger boardings. That total was 60 percent higher than the enplanements Denver Air had been averaging during its first year in service.