Denver Air Connection soon to be alone in local air serviceSep 29, 2017 By Katie Roenigk, Staff Writer
Great Lakes Airlines may be leaving Fremont County next month, but there still are options for flights out of Riverton through Denver Air Connection.
"That is the good news," Riverton public works director Kyle Butterfield said. "We still have good service in our airport. ... We're losing one partner, but we're still connected to the national transportation network."
The charter/commercial hybrid airline provides "excellent and reliable daily jet service" to and from Denver, he said, and Fremont Air Service Task Force chair Missy White agreed.
"Their on-time performance is the second best in the entire airline industry, and their flights are comfortable and quick," she said Friday. "Fremont County residents want reliable air service for business and personal travel, and DAC provides it."
In an interview Friday with The Ranger, she said Fremont County would be "high and dry" without any air service next month if local leaders hadn't put in the effort to attract DAC.
The work was prompted by issues with reliability at Great Lakes.
"They were really having a hard time keeping their flight schedule," White said. "We heard loud and clear from the community at large - all of Fremont County - saying this just isn't tenable for us. We need reliable air service.
"We're really glad that forces all around the county could agree with that perspective."
She noted that the effort also involved stakeholders from the state.
"It was truly a team effort, and we're very glad that we put in those hours to make this happen," she said.
It's uncertain at this point whether Denver Air will increase the number of flights it operates between Riverton an Denver now that Great Lakes is gone, she said, adding that the answer depends, in part, on the public.
"To what extent (are) folks using Great Lakes... willing to switch over?" she said. "For some folks I think that'll be no problem, but some want the convenience of the partnership with a legacy air carrier."
Because Denver Air is a scheduled charter flight, passengers can't check their bags through to their final destination if they are traveling farther than Denver. They also have to purchase separate tickets for additional legs of travel.
In addition, White said, ticket for Denver Air flights aren't available on traditional servers. Instead, customers purchase tickets at denverairconnection.com.
"They have a web page and fantastic customer service," White said, explaining that it's an "expensive proposition" to offer tickets through sites such as Kayak and Expedia.
It would also be expensive to attract yet another carrier to Fremont County, she said.
"We certainly recognize competition is a great thing that tends to result in better service and lower prices," she said. "(But) now any air service - especially to small communities - will not be done at-risk by any airline, meaning they'll require some kind of revenue guarantee, and it's unlikely we'd be able to afford a revenue guarantee for another airline provider."
For Denver Air Connection the airport has been responsible for providing $2 million each year for a minimum revenue guarantee that ensures the company doesn't lose money.