PenAir won't fight WNRA request for new Scottsbluff essential air carrier

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WASHINGTON, D.C. (KNEP) - The airline providing service between Scottsbluff and Denver won't fight the Western Nebraska Regional Airport Authority's quest for a new essential air carrier.

PenAir filed a notice of termination of service for all subsidized essential air service to and from Scottsbluff with the U.S. Department of Transportation. In the July 28, 2017 filing, PenAir requests that the DOT issue an order "as soon as possible inviting proposals from carriers interested in providing essential air service to/from Scottsbluff", and then to promptly select a new carrier.

WNRA Board members voted earlier in July to petition the U.S. DOT to vacate the order awarding EAS to PenAir and issue a new Request for Proposal. In their letter to DOT officials dated July 12, WNRA officials noted enplanement numbers for PenAir improved only marginally over the previous EAS carrier, on track for about 4,000 for the year. However, airport officials also said through June 2017, 17 percent of flights were cancelled, with a similar percentage delayed more than 30 minutes and a change in schedule that didn't work for WNRA customers.

PenAir has not suffered a similar level of flight cancellations with service provided to either North Platte or Kearney. In June, PenAir officials said a pilot shortage was presenting challenges contributing to the service issues involving the Scottsbluff airport.

PenAir's filing indicated they intended to continue their Scottsbluff service until a replacement service could begin operation.