A new era at Riverton Regional Airport began Sunday afternoon with the inaugural flight of United Express, operated by SkyWest Airlines
The flight from Denver arrived on time and later departed on time for the return flight to Denver International Airport.
During a ceremonial ribbon cutting inside the terminal before the first flight landed, the Chair of the Fremont Air Service Team, Missy White of Lander, recounted the history of air service in Riverton that resulted in Sunday’s arrival of United Express:
“In spring 2013, air service was in serious decline. By Fall 2014, the situation was dire— multiple days of cancelled flights, and when flights went they were late, and I mean hours late,” she said.
“This led to the creation of FAST— Fremont Air Service Team— we were ready to welcome a new carrier to RIW, but no provider was willing to fly here,” White said. “That was until Denver Air Connection came on the scene with their first flight July 1 2016. DAC started as a scheduled charter, and quickly won over the hearts of Fremont County. We had reliable air service once more and revived commercial air service.”
“White noted the importance of a viable airport. “Commercial air service is critical to Fremont County. It’s a required service to recruit physicians to serve in our hospitals, CWC needs it to recruit the most qualified faculty. Local businesses need air service to maintain connections to suppliers and customers, and businesses considering relocating to the area demand it.” She also noted that air service is critical to our growing tourism industry. “Air service allows us to live rural— and enjoy all the benefits of small, tight communities and peaceful living— and connect globally,” she noted
“While we will miss Denver Air Connection, we’re thrilled today to begin United Express service to Riverton Regional Airport. With this, we’re 2 flights away from hundreds of domestic locations served by United daily. United also has several international destinations from Denver. Fliers have already noticed the affordable tickets prices for destinations beyond Denver, and will be able to fly locally without concerns about bad roads. We know bad road conditions can hamper travel 7 or more months of the year,” she said, “But 789 between Lander and Riverton never closes.
With today’s new service, Fremont County gets the best of both worlds: Live Rural and Connect Global.”
Also speaking were Riverton Mayor Richard Gard and Public Works Director Kyle Butterfield. Both noted the tremendous support from the Fremont County Commissioners, the city councils of Lander, Riverton and Shoshoni, IDEA, Inc. and Wind River Development of Riverton, Lander LEDA and the Chamber of Commerce offices of both Lander and Riverton. Other contributions came from the Northern Arapaho Tribe and, of course, the State of Wyoming Aeronautics Division of WYDOT, who picked up 60 percent of the cost to provide a minimum revenue guarantee which made the DAC service possible. The local FAST committee also worked hand in hand with its counterpart in Sheridan for the shared flight schedule between the two Wyoming communities and Denver.
On hand for the event were local elected officials from Riverton, Lander and Shoshoni including Mayors Richard Gard, Monte Richardson and Joel Highsmith, respectively. Fremont County Commissioner Mike Jones, State Representative Tim Salazar of HD #34 plus members of the Fremont Air Service Team and representatives from the Lander and Riverton Economic Development Organizations and other stakeholders also attended.
The festive event included a ribbon cutting and ceremonial photos on the apron in front of the 50-passenger jet.
The new service provides 13 flights to Denver each week with one ticket and baggage transfer for a passengers entire itinerary.