City pushing for change in airline
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.