SkyWest Airlines is the preferred air service provider from among the three air carriers that bid on serving the Brainerd Lakes Regional Airport.
That was the opinion expressed by airport commissioners Tuesday. They approved a draft of letter to the U.S. Department of Transportation in which they identified SkyWest of St. George, Utah, as its choice.
In the letter, Andy Larson, airport commission chair, wrote that SkyWest’s use of 50-passenger CRJ200 jets (similar to those now being used by Delta) would best serve the airport’s passengers. Use of that aircraft would also allow the airport to use its jet bridge, for easier boarding, Larson wrote. A third point made in the letter was that the CRJ200s has the ability to carry cargo for the airport’s hockey camp and golfing passengers.
“Plus SkyWest serving the Brainerd area through Delta keeps the rewards program intact for frequent flyers,” Larson wrote.
The other two airlines that had bid to serve Brainerd were Sovereign Air Inc. and Great Lakes Airlines.
Delta Air Lines informed the Brainerd airport in July of 2011 that it would lose Delta air service at some point. The airline has continued to serve Brainerd airport since the announcement.
Interim Airport Manager Rick Adair said the U.S. Department of Transportation is asking for comments on the air service proposals to be turned in by Aug. 17.
“In all reality, SkyWest is our best bet,” Adair said.
In an analysis Adair and Brainerd Lakes Chamber Chief Executive Officer Lisa Paxton prepared they noted that International Falls and Brainerd would be paired with flights stopping in both cities. The CRJ200s would have a flight attendant and a rest room on board while Great Lakes’ Beechcraft 1900 19-seat aircraft would have no rest room. The Essential Air Service subsidy would be $1,356,764 with SkyWest and $1,785,221 with Great Lakes. SkyWest, as a partner with Delta Air Lines, would use Delta gates, tickets and customer service. Flights to Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport would use Concourse G with SkyWest and Concourse E with Great Lakes. In the category of plane availability SkyWest was marked “yes” while Great Lakes was marked “not yet confirmed.”
In other action the airport commission:
Expressed its condolences to the family of Airport Commissioner Rachel Reabe Nystrom. Nystrom’s father, Gordon Reabe died July 31. Nystrom was absent from Tuesday’s meeting.
Adopted a final 2012 budget of $936,264.
Adopted a preliminary 2013 budget of $952,919.
Approved the sale of the Wings restaurant to Guy and Tammy Anderson.
Accepted a state agreement for the abandonment of Runway 12/30. The commission passed a similar motion specifying the dollar amount of the state grants for the project.
The commission then adjourned until later in the day when it was scheduled to interview finalists for the airport manager position.