Aberdeen's third flight at the regional airport will be done a week early -- on Nov. 22.
SkyWest offered a third flight for the beginning of hunting season. That flight was available Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Transportation Director Mike Wilson said passenger numbers for October were down about 1.6 percent compared to last year. Asked about seat occupancy, Wilson said a third flight on Sunday might have worked better since those flights have been full.
The third flights were originally scheduled to conclude closer to the end of the month.
In 2012, the third flight was available from Oct. 18-Nov. 2, but Wilson said the extra flight was initially proposed through Nov. 16. It was offered six days a week. In 2011, third flights were offered Oct. 13-31.
Looking ahead, Wilson said Essential Air Service proposals are due to the FAA by Nov. 15, and those should be available for review by Nov. 20. He recommended planning a special meeting to review those proposals. Wilson said proposals are evaluated based on four criteria: service reliability, cost of the proposal, connections with other air carriers and public input.
Asked about flight times, Wilson said times are set by the carrier. Wilson said he's had some feedback on the flight time for the early morning flight and has two vocal fliers who don't like the 5:20 a.m. flight, but Wilson said the early morning flights are full and passengers are able to get better connections in Minneapolis.
Alan Johnson, the City Council's liason on the airport board, said he's flown twice on the 5:20 a.m. flight and said it saved his company time because they've arrived at their destination earlier and were able to work for a half a day upon their arrival. In the end, he said, his company saved money on hotel costs because it made for a faster business trip.
In other business:
Board members reviewed fees charged by Aberdeen Regional Airport, including ground lease fees, fuel flow, hangar lease rates, rental car fees and landing fees. Wilson recommended an increase in the landing fee for passenger flights. The fee is currently 53 cents per 1,000 pounds and is set to increase to 55.1 cents per 1,000 pounds when the new EAS contract goes into effect. In comparing Aberdeen's fee to other regional airports, Wilson suggested increasing the rate to 60 cents, which will bring in between $3,000 and $4,000 in additional revenue.
Board members discussed this item briefly before asking for something in writing that could be reviewed in December.
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The additional flight at the Aberdeen Regional Airport runs for a limited period of time:
2013: Oct. 17 to Nov. 22 (scheduled)
2012: Oct. 18 to Nov. 2
2011: Oct. 13 to Oct. 31