A family-owned daily newspaper serving Riverton, Lander and Fremont County, Wyoming since 1949

No indication of Great Lakes departure yet

May 17, 2017 - From staff and wire reports

Despite leadership shakeups and financial struggles, Great Lake Airlines has not indicated any "change in direction" in its service at Riverton Regional Airport, according to Riverton public works director Kyle Butterfield.

Chuck Howell, who had been the airline's president since 2002, recently announced he had left the company. In April, the Cheyenne-based airline was behind on five months worth of lease payments to the Cheyenne Regional Airport, amounting to $80,000.

That airport uses the lease payments to pay off a bond that funded construction of the building that serves as the airline's headquarters, and to cover the airline's operations at the airport.

Butterfield said Great Lakes is current on payments to Riverton, and the company has not indicated a plan to leave.

Local officials have had conflicting feelings toward the longtime provider in recent years. Until last July, the airline had been the only option for air service at Riverton, but its performance plummeted in 2013 after the institution of costly new federal regulations.

As a result, prices increased while reliability dropped. Last August, the number of departing passengers from Riverton dropped to 115. In peak years about 1,000 passengers a month used the airline.

Since then, Great Lakes has had a bit of resurgence, with 471 passengers departing Riverton via Great Lakes in December. However, passenger numbers have dropped every month since.

Denver Air Connection has served Riverton Regional with jet service since last summer, aided by revenues assistance from local governments.

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