McCOOK, Nebraska -- With the possibility of losing essential air service at the McCook Ben Nelson Regional Airport in October, city staff unsuccessfully explored the possibility of avoiding the expense of the new wildlife fence it was directed to construct earlier this year. The estimated $970,344 fence project was the result of an FAA required wildlife assessment of the airport and is planned to be primarily funded by grants, with the city responsible for $43,083.
Public Works Director Kyle Potthoff told the Airport Advisory Commission Thursday afternoon, during a regularly scheduled meeting at Heritage Senior Center, that the fence would still be a requirement in order for the airport to maintain its part 139 airport certification, which allows for small 10-30 seat airlines.
City staff also informed board members that they had reached out to airlines, looking for options if the approximately 1.7 to 1.9 million dollars in federal funds supplementing annual air service is pulled. Although several options remain, including bus service to other airports and limiting flights to a weekly basis, the airlines were clear in communicating to city staff that nothing would be pursued until the federal debate was over and the dust settled.
2010-11 enplanement numbers were presented at the meeting, which show the number of people boarding at the airport.
February 2011 showed a 33 percent decrease in passengers, dropping from 136 to 90 and ending a 10 month consecutive streak of increases versus prior year. 2010 as a whole ended at a 17 percent increase over 2009, 1,950 total passengers versus the 1,656 of 2009.