North Platte Airport Authority Board denies essential air-service proposals

The North Platte Airport Authority denied three essential air service (EAS) proposals at their June 7 meeting.
Published: Jun. 14, 2022 at 6:26 PM CDT
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NORTH PLATTE, Neb. (KNOP) - The North Platte Airport Authority Board recently received proposals from three different airlines, but rejected them at their meeting last week.

The airlines that submitted bids include Boutique Air, Southern Airways Express and Ravn Alaska. Boutique and Southern both proposed a nine-seat turboprop aircraft, while Ravn Alaska had proposed a 50-seat turboprop with shared flights with Kearney.

North Platte Airport Manager said the airport authority’s primary concern with the three proposals is the fewer available seats available for the community compared to the current regional jet service with SkyWest.

“The main reason why we decided not to support those three proposals that we received is because of how much North Platte has supported having a 50-seat jet service and looking at our boarding numbers and how they’ve increased over the years.” Seafeldt said. “Southern Airways Express and Boutique Air both propose a nine-seat turboprop aircraft which would make it exceedingly difficult for us to maintain our primary airport status with only 11,232 and 9,2828 seats available respectively per year.”

In a letter directed to the United States Department of Transportation Seafeldt goes on to state the following:

There has never been a more crucial time for the North Platte Airport Regional Airport to maintain our regional jet service and current finding status as a primary airport. The NPPA recently completed our 20-year Master Plan and we have several upcoming projects which makes our funding sources critical to maintain our current capital improvement plan. The City of North Platte also has a few large projects in the community on the horizon which will result in a greater air travel demand. Maintaining our regional jet service is our best chance to continue our upward trajectory of rising enplanements.

Seafeldt also provided a brief history of Calendar year Enplanements for Lee Bird Field (LBF)

2014: 4,314 (turboprop)

2015: 3,909 (turboprop)

2016: 3,619 (turboprop)

2017: 3,039 (turboprop)

2018: 12,982 (regional jet)

2019: 15,928 (regional jet)

2020: 7,368 (regional jet - pandemic)

2021: 13,502 (regional jet - pandemic rebound)

2022: 12,000 (regional jet - pilot shortage) PROJECTED

2040: 25,000 (forecasted enplanements)

Meantime, Seafeldt said SkyWest will begin offering 14 round trips a week to and from Denver starting July 12 with no connecting flights to Scottsbluff.

The North Platte Airport Authority denies three essential air service bids.

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