Time to rally behind airport, SkyWest

We are concerned with the number of area residents making use of Alpena County Regional Airport. We believe it is time for the community to rally around the SkyWest service being offered there before it is too late.

For a variety of reasons enplanement numbers have been dropping consistently at the airport. The same was true in March, when numbers were down 190 from last year.

By now readers understand the importance of those numbers, and how they impact federal funding for the airport. The Federal Aviation Administration counts enplanements from October through November and if an essential service airport, such as Alpena, reaches 10,000 it gets a $1 million subsidy. If the mark is missed, the airport would only receive $150,000.

There are reasons for the lower numbers: Cost, schedules and Minneapolis being dropped as a destination all play a factor.

Without debating those reasons, however, it is time for Northeast Michigan leaders to rally around the airport and the SkyWest service here. Right now SkyWest and the feds are considering future routes and potential subsidies for Alpena. It is important that SkyWest remain the airport’s designated carrier.

And, it is important people start using that service again so that the 10,000 plateau is not missed. Toward that end we believe Northeast Michigan leaders should rally together and finance a very visible public relations campaign to increase service again locally. We are at a critical point here and waiting too much longer only will jeopardize the goal that is needed,

We are concerned unless we can get residents using the service again, the $1 million will be missed.

That would have a very chilling effect on airport projects and severely impact economic development across the region moving forward.