Although this has been one of the worst winters in recent memory, not many flights have been cancelled at Yellowstone Regional Airport, the Joint Powers Board said during its meeting last week.
Only two flights in January and one in early February failed to make a scheduled landing in Cody.
“We’ve had snow on the ground since Dec. 17, so our crews have done a great job of keeping the runways clear,” YRA manager Bob Hooper said. “Especially with the new FAA requirements about ice on the runways.”
YRA Operations Supervisor Bruce Ransom added: “You know what we’re doing.”
While Ransom was speaking to the board on Feb. 8, one of the plows went cruising past the windows of the Duggleby Board Room. Ransom’s crews have been burning up diesel fuel in their machines trying to keep things cleared for the planes.
“We’re one of the few Skywest airports not to have many cancelled flights,” YRA Board member Bucky Hall said. “The crews have done a great job.”
Keeping snow off the runways isn’t the only problem, the white stuff also drifted in by the hangars where private planes are stored. With the magnitude of snow this winter there is simply no place to put it.
“We made a decision that it was unsafe on hangar row, so we hired Harris Trucking to remove the snow,” Hooper said. “With two trucks and a front-end loader, it took them four hours to clear it out.”
Winter weather may have also had an effect on the numbers for passenger boardings and rental cars. There was a 12.2 percent decrease in the number of car rental days for January. There was also a 13.9 percent decrease in the number of airplane passengers last month as compared to a year ago.
Looking ahead to the summer tourist season, United Airlines will resume service to Denver on May 5. United will also operate one flight per week to Chicago starting on June 10.
Skywest is scheduled for three flights during the week and two additional flights on Saturdays and Sundays.
Keeping the fence around the perimeter of the airport intact has also been a concern. On Jan. 27, a vehicle failed to stop at the intersection of the Greybull and Meeteetse highways.
Apparently traveling at a high rate of speed, the vehicle went off the road and crashed through the airport’s fence. The vehicle came to rest on the taxiway.
“How he missed the hangars and the vehicles parked there is almost a miracle,” YRA Board Chairman Bob Adrian said. “There must have been somebody riding on his shoulder to prevent the crash from being worse.”
A claim has been filed with the driver’s insurance company. The airport management will likely wait until the snow melts to determine the extent of the damage.
If people keep driving through the perimeter fence, board members joked they might have to build a wall around the airport.
Choice Aviation requested approval to build T-Hangars in the area now vacant after the removal of the old Armory building. The board has not made any decision on what to do with that parcel of land, which encompasses 6.1 acres.
With all of the current hangars now being leased, there is a need for more storage space at the airport. No work can be done to address this situation unless the airport makes infrastructure upgrades to the vacant land.
“We have no funds available,” Adrian said. “We already have projects to pay for going out five years.”
Representatives from Choice acknowledged this type of project will take time. They just wanted to get the process started.
“We have to take steps to develop that property,” said Doug Johnston, Secretary for the Board. There was no timetable decided on for this project.
In other business:
•Design plans have been submitted to the FAA for approval of an apron expansion. This would allow for up to four planes at a time to be at the airport.
•Final payments were approved in the Taxiway A Rehabilitation and Electrical Project. The FAA has done its flight check for the new PAPI lights and the airport will be reimbursed for the cost by the federal agency.
•Delays continue in completing the Approach Analysis Study as support for using new landing technology doesn’t appear to be very strong from Skywest. The board agreed to put pressure on the airlines to get it done.
• A Choice Aviation request to shut down airspace for an hour on Aug. 5 for its annual Air Fair was tabled until next month. A letter of notification will be sent to airport tenants.