Jet Service Options Up in Air at S.D. Airport

May 5--Because of problems with Northwest Airlines, Aberdeen Regional Airport officials are looking into other options for jet service.

Airport manager Dave Osborn said the airport board had been hoping to use $500,000 in federal grant money to begin jet service to Aberdeen. But Northwest is unwilling to work through a contract until issues surrounding its bankruptcy last year are resolved.

Currently Mesaba -- a Northwest affiliate -- flies from Aberdeen into Minneapolis. It is the city's only commercial provider.

The airport sought the approval of the Federal Aviation Administration and the state department of transportation -- both of which the grant is written through -- to look into getting a different carrier for the jet service. Originally the grant was written to work through Mesaba, and the airport board wanted to be certain there would be no changes in its grant eligibility if there was a contract with another airline.

One of the options the airport board is looking into is a carrier that would go west. Pierre is served by United Express with flights from Pierre to Denver.

Osborn has been working with Sixel -- an airport marketing group -- to discuss options of other contracts and has already looked into the option of flights to Omaha, Neb., or Denver. Denver is the preference because of the size of its airport and the options for customer connections, Osborn said.

Osborn said the airport board has alerted Northwest to its search.

The airport is hoping to use money from the grant to get jet service on at least one flight a day, airport officials said.

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