ALPENA - In 2011 Alpena County Regional Airport had 12,073 enplanements and earned a $1 million subsidy from the Federal Aviation Administration. This year the airport already has surpassed the 10,000 enplanement mark needed for another subsidy and if the number of passengers who fly to and from Alpena continues at its current pace the final numbers should be more than last year.
In November the airport had 1,187 enplanements, which was up 15 percent for the same month in 2011 when there were 1,032. The total number of enplanements through November is 11,412 and Airport Manager Billi McRoberts said she believes last year's totals will be beat. She said with everything the airport has had to endure this year, it is encouraging to see a good amount of people using the airport.
Earlier this year former air service provider Delta Airlines informed the airport and the FCC it intended to discontinue service in Alpena once a suitable replacement was found. It took months, but ultimately SkyWest Airlines was contracted for two years and things have been working out well to this point. McRoberts said she is glad SkyWest is being accepted positively in the community.
"I feel relieved," McRoberts said. "I was hopeful when SkyWest was in place and things would settle down after all of the confusion the number of flights would pick up and indeed they have. I think the numbers will continue to increase because the number of flights to Minneapolis seems to have really been picking up."
McRobert said said in December 2011 there were 985 enplanements and she thinks this year should be equal or better than that. She isn't sure at this time how many enplanements the airport has had this month because she said been on vacation and just returned to work. McRoberts said she has been approached by people who said they had heard SkyWest was going to discontinue its weekend flights in Alpena. She said she has been in communications with the airline about the issue and there is no truth to the rumor.
"I have talked to SkyWest and I have been assured that we are continued being serviced as we are now," McRoberts said. "They have no idea where the rumor started or who started it but it is not true. I just want to clarify that. We will continue to have the same flight schedule as before."
Steve Schulwitz can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5689.