CHEYENNE – Cheyenne Mayor Marian Orr on Friday met with officials from the County Commission, City Council, Wyoming Department of Transportation, LEADS, Chamber of Commerce, and Visit Cheyenne collectively to discuss the path forward following Great Lakes suspension of flights effective immediately at midnight last Tuesday.
Orr said there was consensus among the group that the immediate task before them is to secure a letter of intent from a carrier before the 90-day deadline of June 24 to ensure continued Transportation Security Administration (TSA) checkpoint services. Re-establishing the checkpoint, if lost, could take over six months.
“Air service is critical infrastructure to the Capital City, and thereby needs to be treated and funded as such,” Orr said. “We have the immediate task before us of securing a new carrier and destination and the two best options are an Allegiant Air twice-weekly flight to Las Vegas or a twice-daily route to Dallas/Fort Worth on SkyWest Airlines.”
Orr said the Allegiant flight to Las Vegas from Loveland/Fort Collins was successful and drew full flights from passengers up and down the Front Range. It was discontinued, however, because of runway length and the necessity for a control tower.
“This is a proven option,” Orr said. “I believe we could easily attract passengers from Colorado, just as they once attracted countless Cheyenne residents for that flight. Given the congestion and cost of parking at Denver International Airport, this could prove to be a winner for us.”
Orr said her conversations with mayors along the Front Range further bolstered her confidence in the success of such a flight. Orr has convened meetings with counterparts from Front Range cities specifically to address regional air possibilities.
In addressing the other alternative — a twice-daily route to Dallas/Fort Worth, Orr said Cheyenne’s large military, oil and gas, and wind-energy communities makes this an attractive option.
“This route is a viable solution for business travelers,” Orr said. “That’s not to say there isn’t business being done in Las Vegas as Vegas isn’t just about quick vacations anymore. There are national and international conventions and meetings taking place consistently that members in our community and along the Front Range travel to.”
Orr said the meeting was positive adding that Great Lakes essentially forced everyone to come together sooner versus later to discuss air service.
“We know good money is going down to Denver International Airport every day. If we can capture some of that money by not only keeping it here but enticing our neighbors along the Front Range as well, then that’s nothing but a good thing,” she said. “The voters approved a $17 million-dollar investment in a new air terminal, and we must protect that investment. I believe we are heading in the right direction.”