SkyWest administrators to visit Alpena

ALPENA — Administrators for SkyWest Airlines are going to visit Alpena in the coming month at the invitation of the Alpena Area Chamber of Commerce.

During a recent meeting between Alpena County Regional Airport Manager Steve Smigelski and Jackie Krawczak and Jim Klarich of the chamber, it was suggested the county and community provide SkyWest an opportunity to get to know more about the area and what its service means to it.

Smigelski said during Thursday’s airport committee meeting that SkyWest has agreed to the invitation and the chamber is picking up the expense of the trip. He said the relationship between the airport and SkyWest is strong, but strengthening it further is important.

“We agreed that we aren’t being as good of friends with SkyWest as maybe we should be. We invited them to Alpena to see firsthand what the community is about, what our potential is and have an overall better insight of what and who we are,” Smigelski said.

Smigelski said although the two parties communicate, a majority of the dialogue comes when contracts are getting close to expiring and negotiations for a new one are in order. He said he would rather see a relationship where there is more banter between the partners.

“This will make us more familiar to them, if not more friendly,” Smigelski said. “That will be better than going to them every other year and saying ‘Remember me?’ That’s probably not the best policy.

Smigelski said the chamber and SkyWest are working on dates that will work for both sides for the extended visit, but said he believes it could be sometime in May.

In other business:

∫ the county received four bids for ground services at the airport and interviews with each company will take place in March.

∫ on Jan. 3 the runway lights were out of order when a power distribution panel failed. Smigelski said electricians from Thunder Bay Electric fixed the problem the next day and no flights were affected by it.

∫ On Jan. 17 Michigan Department of Transportation reported a leaky roof and county maintenance was called to repair the ceiling and dry the carpets.

∫ Smigelski said he had a meeting with 911 Director and Emergency Services Coordinator Mark Gurisko to begin planning for a full scale disaster exercise in May. The airport is required to conduct one every three years.

∫ there were 666 enplanements in January, which was the fourth straight month there was a year over year increase. Smigelski said it is due to the airport’s more favorable flight schedule.

Steve Schulwitz can be reached via email at sschulwitz@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5689. Follow Steve on Twitter ss_alpenanews.