Passengers deplane on the runway Saturday, Aug. 17, 2019, at Cheyenne Regional Airport. The airport recently celebrated its 10,000th enplanement of the year. Michael Cummo/Wyoming Tribune Eagle

CHEYENNE – Flights to and from Dallas will continue for another year at the Cheyenne Regional Airport after airport board members agreed to a new contract last month with SkyWest Airlines, which oversees the American Airlines service.

The airport gained $600,000 in state funding Thursday that will go toward the airport’s minimum revenue guarantee with SkyWest. The airline can use that funding pool, which is capped at nearly $2 million for the upcoming year, if its operating costs exceed the revenue brought in by the flights.

Wendy Volk, president of the Cheyenne Regional Air Focus Team Executive Committee, said the funds are intended to lower the risk for the airline.

“It’s telling them that we, as a community, support their service,” Volk said.

The flights to and from Dallas, which began last November, have caused the airport to see a jump in its annual passengers. While roughly 1,700 people used the airport in 2017, about 31,000 passengers flew through Cheyenne over the past year.

“The last time we had this many passengers flying in and out of Cheyenne was 2013,” Volk said. “It was something people took for granted, and now we’ve turned that around.”

After building a new airport terminal last year, officials have turned their attention to reconstructing the facility’s main runway. The time frame and cost of the project will be clearer following completion of the design phase, Volk said.

“We should know sometime at the end of this year, beginning of next year on what that’s going to look like,” she said.

The airport received a $350,000 federal grant for the project in August. Volk said the reconstructed runway will help the airport continue its upward trajectory.

“Yes, there will be a disruption,” Volk said. “But the bottom line is it improves our likelihood of recruiting new airlines.”

Volk mentioned Phoenix, Las Vegas, Los Angeles and Seattle as top market destinations that could be explored in the future.

“We’re going to keep a very focused effort as a community to recruit more than one airline,” she said.

With the return of its commercial flights, the Cheyenne airport was named the fastest-growing small airport for 2019 in this year’s Airport Leaders report, published by the Official Airline Guide.

With plans underway to continue the airport’s facelift, Volk said she is optimistic about taking things to the next level.

“It’s one of the greater success stories in a long time, and I’m so excited that so many groups are a part of it,” Volk said.

Tom Coulter is the Wyoming Tribune Eagle’s state government reporter. He can be reached at tcoulter@wyomingnews.com or 307-633-3124. Follow him on Twitter at @tomcoulter_.

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