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City pushing for change in airline

hays regional airport signBy JOHN SIMMONDS
Hays Post

The City of Hays has received three proposals for service through Hays Regional Airport, but the city is only interested in one of those bids.  At Thursday evening’s city commission work session, city manager Toby Dougherty expanded upon what had been discussed at the previous meeting.

Two bids came from Great Lakes Airlines, and the third came from Sky West Airlines.  The bids received are as follows:

1-Sky West Airlines. 12 flights a week in a 50-passenger CRJ Jet. Subsidy requested: $2.25 million
2-Great Lakes. 21 flights a week in a 19-passenger Beech 1900. Subsidy requested: $1.7 million
3-Great Lakes. 14 flights a week in a 30-passenger Brasilia. Subsidy requested: $1.5 million

At the Dec. 12 meeting, the Hays City Commission unanimously agreed that SkyWest would be better for the community.  SkyWest is consistently in the top 10 percent of all US airlines in on-time percentage, while Great Lakes has reported that in November, 40 percent of their scheduled flights through Hays Regional Airport have been canceled.

Dougherty since has drafted a letter on behalf of the City of Hays to the Department of Transportation, who will make the final decision on which company will be awarded service. The letter states that “The City of Hays and its residents give the strongest possible endorsement to the air service proposal of SkyWest Airlines.”

The letter goes on to detail the level of disservice Great Lakes has provided to Hays as well as the benefits of awarding SkyWest the bid for service. Dougherty added this letter will not be the only one sent to DOT expressing a desire to change providers.

“I have solicited letters from the (Ellis County) Coalition for Economic Development, the (Hays Area) Chamber of Commerce, Hays Medical Center and Fort Hays State University. If they wanted to write a letter in support of SkyWest airlines, those will be in the packets.”

Though the city commission has the funds available to pay the higher subsidy, Dougherty told commissioners other entities in Hays have stepped up to bridge that gap. The chamber pledged $25,000, the economic development coalition committed up to $50,000, and HaysMed has offered up to $50,000 to ensure a more reliable airline is able to conduct business in Hays.

Service with the company awarded the bid for Hays Regional Airport is anticipated to begin May 1.

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  • Question

    Will Sky West offer flights to KC and Denver?

    • tanner

      Good question. also any idea what sky west will charge for ticket prices? would they be cheaper than great lakes? if they are asking more funds to operate will they also charge more ticket prices?

      • newairline

        From a previous article here; In their bid, Skywest claimed that tickets to denver would be $99. Greatlakes would charge $125.

        • tanner

          thanks for the info. didn’t see previous article.

  • Clipped wings & wallet

    Most people can’t afford to fly Hays! If certain businesses like FHSU, city & county employees, & other State employees want better service let them subsidize Sky West. We’re already paying for their tickets and flying convenience! By the way, Aaron White & his ECCED generous donation of $50,000 is all taxpayer dollars, Hays Med will just pass on the costs to patients, as will members of the Chamber to their customers! Their generosity will cover less than 2% of the subsidy!

    • Blind r

      Anything else to whine about? ECCED is not all taxpayer dollars. Hays Med will fund that through their budget. It’s not much money as a % of their budget. Or, in your way of thinking everything is being paid for by you?

  • d

    Where the heck does the city have 2.25 million to cover this cost. Maybe they should give the taxpayer a little break also. Wow when does it end from our elected officials, city, county and school?

  • Travelor

    Great Job Everyone! The entire area will benefit from “jet” service and greater overall customer service! SkyWest and May 1st, 2014 can’t get here fast enough!!!

    • Clipped wings & wallet

      Yeah we can all see your a world traveler…travelor?…just be careful you get on the right jet plane!

      • butkus

        clipped. did you get out of the wrong side of the bed this morning. what’s with your negativity over this. look at the bigger picture. if this community expects to grow economically we have to have a vibrant airport. business leaders in this community are offering to step it up to help get a better airline in here. let them help. help be a solution to the problem.

        • clipped

          butkus as I said earlier business leaders donations won’t even cover 2% of the costs! And those donations will be passed on to their customers…like you! You just need to wake up & get out of bed.

  • HYS FLYER

    12 flights a week? Come on, 21 flights even if delays by Great Lakes is better availalability. Look at the facts…main runway and ILS were out during this “study”. How many hours or days do we want to wait for connections in Denver?

    • What About

      But if 52% of their flights aren’t on time or cancelled, then that makes 11.

  • KC Flight???

    Will they fly to KC?

  • Clipped & sheared like sheep!

    Bottom line the Commissioners & Toby will slide the airline subsidy through along with the city employee Christmas bonuses totally $97,500 over the holidays and most citizens won’t know it happened or say anything! Only 23% of Hays citizens voted in the last local election.

  • ryan

    even if the other entities chip in the city still has to cough up the remainder. unless they can convince the fed’s to pay it all (yeah, right). and what happened to this big argument from commissioners months ago about taking the lowest bid. i don’t fly out of hays much but when i do I’ve never had a problem with great lakes. and it looks to me great lakes is offering more daily flights than sky west at a cheaper price. and who says we won’t develop complaints against sky west?? don’t be foolish commissioners with taxpayers money.