Almost $1M subsidy needed for air service between Cody, Denver
January 27, 2022
POWELL (WNE) — The federal government is being asked to pay nearly $1 million per year to keep United Airlines flying between Cody and Denver in Yellowstone Regional Airport’s slower months.
From June through September, United flies at its own risk to Cody, but for years, it’s required a subsidy to serve the airport from October through May. Starting next fall, the airline says it will need $996,968 a year to keep offering twice-a-day flights to and from Denver. That’s up more than 18% from the current $841,000 subsidy offered through the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Ankit Gupta, a senior vice president at United, said in a letter to the DOT that the higher subsidy was necessary “to operate sustainably between October and May in the face of a higher-cost environment going forward.”
“Resource constraints at United, in part caused by the COVID-19 pandemic but expected to persist into the intermediate future, contribute to the increase in operating and structural costs,” Gupta wrote, saying the increased subsidy “recognizes the economic reality” of serving Yellowstone Regional Airport’s off-peak months; it’s not unusual for passenger boardings to shrink to about a third of summer traffic.
The subsidies are offered through the DOT’s Essential Air Service program, which guarantees smaller airports like Cody a connection to a larger hub, like Denver.
On Tuesday, Park County commissioners agreed to sign a letter backing United’s request for the $996,968 annual subsidy.
“I don’t think we have a choice — we need to support this, we desperately need the essential air service here in Cody,” said Commissioner Joe Tilden.
This story was published on Jan. 20 in the Powell Tribune.