CHEYENNE – The city’s new air service has attracted nearly double the number of flyers that Great Lakes Airlines did in its entire last year of service.
New data from SkyWest and the Wyoming Aeronautics Commission reveals that, during the first two months of American Eagle flights between Cheyenne and Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, more than 3,200 passengers used the service – 1,447 in November 2018 and 1,765 in December 2018.
This shows a 22 percent increase in the number of airline passengers in one month, and exceeds the 1,700 total Great Lakes passengers during 2017.
“I was delighted to see a family of six driving from Sheridan, which has its own airport, to catch a flight from Cheyenne directly to Dallas to go to a Dallas Cowboys game,” Cheyenne Regional Air Focus Team President Wendy Volk said.
Great Lakes was only offering one flight a week in 2017, while American Eagle offers once-daily flights.
But those involved with the effort to restore service here say the flight is outperforming expectations, if just slightly.
Tim Barth, director of the Cheyenne Regional Airport, said the numbers are cautiously optimistic. He’ll have a better idea of how well the service is doing when the airline releases its quarterly report early next month.
“We’ll have three months worth of data, showing where the minimum revenue guarantee stands and how much money we spent on it,” he said. “That’s going to be the telltale sign. For a startup operation, I would say that this is about where it should be. I have a tendency to look at these things a little more conservatively, but I am surprised it’s doing this well.”
Barth attributes this to reliable name-brand service and word of mouth.
“Word has gotten out along the Front Range of the ease, convenience and cost savings of flying out of our airport versus Denver,” Cheyenne Mayor Marian Orr said Tuesday during her State of the City address.
“Word is the direct flight from Dallas has become a big hit for our University of Wyoming athletics department. Recruiting student-athletes visiting our airport – instead of flying to DIA and driving through CSU Ram territory – is certainly a better recruiting experience.”
Volk said in a meeting that Wyoming, Texas, Colorado and Nebraska license plates dominate the airport’s parking lot.
“The last time we had Dallas connectivity, Visit Cheyenne donated its time to gather data, so I compared,” she said. “At that time, we did not have that penetration of Texas license plates. So, we are seeing oil, gas and other companies with Texas operations.”
The Cheyenne Regional Air Focus Team signed a one-year contract with SkyWest this summer, guaranteeing a minimum revenue of $2.3 million. Flights began Nov. 4.
Although some customers have reported occasional late flights, officials say this is to be expected with any airline. Airport staff will recruit new shops to provide comforts during flight delays.
“It looks like we’ve got interest in the gift shop space and an amenity- type shop that would serve packaged food like sandwiches,” Barth said.
Volk said CRAFT may expand the route this year if this trend continues.