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June boardings up at airports: Jamestown has 334, Devils Lake 281 after commercial air service resumes

by June boardings up at airports: Jamestown has 334, Devils Lake 281 after commercial air service resumes

Posted on 7/15/2014

The first month of commercial passenger jet service from United Express to Jamestown Regional Airport had 334 boardings, the most the airport has had since March 2012.

Passenger service resumed to Jamestown and Devils Lake on June 5. Jamestown Regional Airport Manager Matt Leitner said the 334 passenger boardings recorded at Jamestown in June are the most at the airport since Delta Airlines had the EAS contract in March 2012.

The most boardings Great Lakes had at Jamestown Regional Airport were 300 in December 2012, according to Leitner.

"Those June numbers were better than what we were hoping for or expecting," Leitner said.

The trend for more passenger boardings at Jamestown Regional Airport is expected to continue this month. As of Monday Leitner said there had been 275 passenger boardings - more than the entire month of July 2013 when Great Lakes Airlines had 247 boardings.

"I think we're looking at 600 boardings for July," he said. "If it happens, if we hit 600, that would make it our best July for boardings since 1978."

Devils Lake Regional Airport Manager John Nord said Devils Lake had 281 boardings for June and has 215 boardings in July as of Monday.

"We were very happy with the June numbers, considering we started on the 5th (of June)," he said. "We're expecting really good numbers for the boardings to keep increasing as we go."

SkyWest Airlines, a regional carrier based out of Utah, contracts with United Express to provided 11 roundtrip flights each week on 50-seat jet airplanes from Denver International Airport to Jamestown and Devils Lake Regional airports. SkyWest was awarded the bid by the U.S. Department of Transportation to provide passenger air service to the Jamestown and Devils Lake airports under the Federal Aviation Administration's Essential Air Service program.

Jamestown and Devils Lake airports lost commercial passenger service on Feb. 1 when Great Lakes Airlines, the airline that had been providing passenger service for both airports, stopped offering flights.

Nord and Leitner said having reliable service from United Express through SkyWest is important. Nord said United Express had only canceled one flight from Jamestown/ Devils Lake since passenger service resumed on June 5.

"That was due to weather in Denver, nothing to do with any problems here or in Jamestown," he said.

A flight was also delayed in late June due to mechanical reasons. Nord said it was an issue with a plane that was flying into Denver from a different location that delayed the flight to Jamestown and Devils Lake.

"I really think working with SkyWest and United (Express), they do things on a professional level, very prepared. They are great to work with," Nord said.

Leitner said other than the two instances that Nord mentioned he couldn't think of any problems.

"We get an occasional issue, with weather and mechanical problems, but nothing that isn't par for the course," he said.

Wes Horrocks, manager of corporate communications for SkyWest Airlines, said SkyWest is pleased by the response the airline has seen from passengers from traveling out of Jamestown and Devils Lake airports.

"We anticipate seeing it (the number of boardings) to grow in the coming months and encourage all travelers to start their next trip by flying local - where they'll enjoy free parking, short security lines and convenient, quality service," Horrocks said in a prepared statement.

Leitner said he can tell the airport is busier by talking with passengers as they come in for flights.

"The parking lot is full, so full we're having to use our auxiliary lot," he said. "We're seeing people driving up from Aberdeen (South Dakota) to fly out of Jamestown."

Jim Boyd, chairman of the Jamestown Regional Airport Authority, said the boarding numbers for June and July are right about where he thought they would be.

"We are very pleased with the boardings report, and I think those numbers are just going to keep going up as more people become aware of the service we provide here," he said.

Sun reporter Chris Olson can be reached at 701-952-8454 or by email at colson@jamestownsun.com