Wednesday, May 2, 2012
By TONY EVANS
Wood River Valley residents may have something to say about development of a replacement airport, but they may have little to say about whether commercial regional jets fly in and out of Friedman Memorial Airport in Hailey.
Airport Manager Rick Baird paid a visit to the Bellevue City Council on Thursday to provide information to a crowd that had gathered to fight ratification of a letter to SkyWest airlines stating that the city would welcome a study to see if commercial regional jets could fly to Hailey.
The letter was drafted by the Friedman Memorial Airport Authority and delivered to the city by authority member Tom Bowman. However, Bowman withdrew the letter before the meeting when he was told by City Council Chair Dave Hattula that he should not expect it to be signed because the council needed more information about regional jets.
Baird took about an hour to explain that regional jets are the thing of the future – more reliable and perhaps less expensive in the long run, allowing for flights to and from the West Coast and Colorado. He said SkyWest’s Bombardier CRJ 700, which carries 70 passengers, twice the number as the SkyWest turbo-props currently in use, was test-landed at the airport about a month ago, indicating that air carriers could begin using the planes in the near future.
SkyWest broached the subject of adding regional jets to its Sun Valley operation during a meeting with the Airport Authority in November.
Baird said that if regional jets are restricted from flying here, the valley could lose commercial air service, a possibility the authority is charged with avoiding.
In any case, general aviation, including large private jets, will still have the run of the airport because in some respects they are in a class all their own.
“Private jets like the Global Express fly in already without a sterile runway [required for commercial traffic],” he said. “In the general aviation world, the pilot in command decides whether or not it is safe to land.”
Baird said the CRJ 700 jets are smaller than the Global Express aircraft.
Source: IDAHO MOUNTAIN EXPRESS