Jul 22, 2015

Cody to Chicago direct flights almost full

Although early in the summer-only service, Chicago flights from Yellowstone Regional Airport in Cody are going well.

It is a once-a-week direct flight that arrives in Cody Saturday night and departs Sunday Morning from June 20 through Aug. 16.

United Airlines will depart Yellowstone Regional at 8 a.m. Sunday to arrive at O’Hara International Airport in Chicago at 11:43 a.m.

An airplane is readied for a flight to Cody at Chicago O'Hare International Airport in June. Cody News Co. photo by CJ Baker
“They’re doing pretty good,” said Bob Hooper, Yellowstone Regional Airport manager.

“Flights are running 85 percent full,” said Hank Coe, Cody Yellowstone Air Improvement Resources (CYAIR) president.

The Chicago aircraft is a 70-seat jet with six first-class seats. On July 5, 63 boarded the flight to Chicago.

“We’re very pleased with air service right now,” Coe said.

The minimum revenue guarantee is approximately $55,000 this year to keep United making the Chicago run. That would be the most the airline would receive, based on how the flights perform, Hooper said.

Last summer, United’s minimum revenue guarantee for Chicago flights was $158,000, but, the program was so successful, CYAIR and the Wyoming Department of Transportation Aeronautics Division were required to pay only around $36,000, Coe said.

Most of the people who take the flight from Chicago to Cody are tourists, officials say.

CYAIR raises half the revenue guarantee locally and Aeronautics chips in the other half. The guarantee is based on the cost to fly the aircraft and ticket sales.

“Ultimately, if we have a lot of success, we don’t have to pay anything,” Coe said.

Mostly tourists board the flights from Chicago to Cody. They come from Europe and the Midwest United States, Coe said.

“And we (Yellowstone Regional) want to keep growing,” Coe said.

Coe would like to see daily summer flights to Chicago and to expand the Salt Lake City and Denver aircraft from 50 to 70 passenger regional jets, he said.

SkyWest Airlines, the largest regional carrier in the country, makes the Chicago and Denver runs for United Airlines and the flight to Salt Lake City for Delta Airlines, Coe said.

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