Riverton airport boardings continue to slip; More flights to be cancelled in March

*Feature Photo: File photo of passengers boarding a Great Lakes Flight in Riverton. (Pitchengine Communities) * (Riverton, Wyo.) - The ongoing national problem of pilot shortages will be acutely felt in Riverton next month when pilot training classes will result in 29 more flight cancellations by Great Lakes Airlines. Only 233 passengers boarded flights in Riverton in January, compared with 431 in January of 2015, which was also a significant reduction from 2014 and 2013. In all of last year, passenger boardings from Riverton fell from the most recent high of 13,762 in 2013 to only 3,632 last year. The big reduction is due to pilot shortages and pilots maxing out on flying hours which resulted in Great Lakes Airlines serving the community with only nine passenger Beechcraft. Riverton also reconstructed the main runway last summer, which only allowed nine passenger commercial flights. In an effort to address those pilot shortages, Riverton Great Lakes Station Manager Marchane Hunt said the company is holding pilot training in Denver. "As the pilots accrue more hours, they go through more training. I saw on the training board that there are sessions in mid-March and I'm guessing that is the reason for the cancellations. The company is also giving bonuses to new pilots and those who choose to say to help fill the gap," she said. Airport Manager and Public Works Director Kyle Butterfield said there are 15 planned cancellations for Flight 2953 (in the morning), 12 cancellations for Flight 2860 (evening) and four cancellations posted for Flight 2962 (Saturday evening). That's just under one-third of Great Lakes total scheduled flights into Riverton Regional, which last month numbered 104. There were nine flight cancellations in January from that schedule. Efforts to enhance Riverton's commercial flight schedule have been underway for over a year in conjunction with the Wyoming Aeronautics Division of WYDOT and the local Fremont Air Service Team (FAST). #county10 #news