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Millions in federal subsidies will keep Cody-Denver air service going

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Via the Wyoming News Exchange

POWELL (WNE) — To keep commercial flights coming to the Cody airport in the fall, winter and spring, it will take more than $11 million worth of subsidies from the federal government over the coming years.

The U.S. Department of Transportation has long subsidized Yellowstone Regional Airport’s commercial air service in all but the peak summer months. However, the price tag for the “Essential Air Service” is rising significantly this year.

Last week, the Department of Transportation agreed to pay SkyWest Airlines a $3.46 million subsidy to provide twice-daily flights between Cody and Denver from October through May 2025. The contract calls for a $3.7 million payment in 2025-26 and $3.96 million owed in 2026- 27.

This year’s subsidy is more than triple what the department has been paying.

However, at an estimated $84 per passenger, it’s significantly less than what’s being paid to secure commercial service to some other communities and it’s well below the $1,000 per passenger maximum.

SkyWest will also operate the fuller and more profitable summer flights without a subsidy, offering three daily flights to Denver beginning on May 23. Then from mid June through August, the airline will provide four daily flights to and from the Colorado capital.

The federal program offers subsidies to airlines willing to offer at least two daily flights between a regional hub and rural airports. Cody has participated in the program since 2011, but the recently awarded contract to SkyWest is the biggest by far.

Thanks to the federal subsidy, the 41,200 travelers expected to catch a Cody-Denver or DenverCody flight between October and June will be insulated from the rising costs. SkyWest said it will charge an average of $128 per ticket, which is actually below the $139 segment fare of two years ago.

This story was published on May 14, 2024.

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