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County approves contracts to keep daily Delta flight to Salt Lake City

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Natrona County International Airport

A Delta flight taxies toward the runway before a flight on Dec. 10, 2015, at the Casper/Natrona County International Airport in Casper. Delta service to Salt Lake City will remain after the Natrona County Commission agreed to a mutual revenue guarantee. 

Casper will be keeping one daily flight to Salt Lake City, after the Natrona County Commissioners voted to accept a contract with carrier SkyWest Airlines on Tuesday.

The county entered into a mutual revenue guarantee with the airline, which operates the Delta flight to Utah, that puts it on the hook for up to $453,000 to keep the flight operating.

On Tuesday, the commissioners also voted to participate in the Wyoming Department of Transportation’s Air Service Enhancement Program. That will provide the county with around $302,000, the other 40% of the $755,000 total required by SkyWest to keep operating.

The contracts are good through the end of April, when air travel is expected to have picked back up enough to sustain the Delta flight without any additional subsidies.

The airline has eliminated service to smaller markets around the country where they aren’t making enough money to stay. On Oct. 1, SkyWest cut one of its two daily flights between Casper and Salt Lake City, and was set to terminate the other one by November without the revenue guarantee.

“SkyWest intends for this service to last beyond the term of this agreement and will use its best efforts to continue service beyond agreement term,” the contract reads.

Airport director Glenn Januska told the board of county commissioners in October that losing the service altogether would make it much more difficult to get back if and when traffic picks back up. Losing pilots, small aircraft and other staff on that route means they’re reassigned elsewhere.

The money will make it profitable for SkyWest to keep operating in Casper, making up the difference of any costs that exceed the revenue they make from passengers. Those costs include fuel, taxes and fees.

The total amount paid to SkyWest won’t be more than $755,000 — if the costs go over that figure, the agreement will end.

Follow city and crime reporter Ellen Gerst on Twitter @ellengerst.

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