Stillwater, partner of OSU to maintain commercial service at the airport
The City of Stillwater and Oklahoma State University are looking to pool funds in future years to ensure continued commercial air service at Stillwater Airport.
According to local officials, the city and the university plan to enter into a memorandum of understanding to secure the minimum revenue guarantees sought by American Airlines, the commercial provider of Stillwater Regional Airport. The carrier, financially undermined by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, has set new financial requirements not only for Stillwater Airport but also for other regional airports.
“Providing this commercial air service has been imperative to keeping our economy healthy and protecting our existing assets,” Stillwater Mayor Will Joyce said in a statement. “Many of our local businesses depend on daily flights from the airport to connect with customers and employees across the United States. The airport (also) provides employment for Stillwater residents, including OSU alumni and aviation industry students.
Approximately 190,000 people reside in the airport’s “catchment area”. More than 225,000 ticketed passengers have left the airport in the past five years.
“Due to the severe impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on air travel across the country, particularly regional markets, American Airlines has requested financial support to continue air service through the recovery period. of the pandemic,” Stillwater Regional Airport Manager Paul Priegel said. “Through our partnership with OSU and their continued support, we are protecting our investment and will continue to provide commercial air service through SWO for the next two years.”
According to the memorandum of understanding, the financial obligations for maintaining service at the airport would be shared equally. It would provide for a guaranteed minimum income capped at $2 million per fiscal year, with a distribution schedule established as follows:
• Up to $1 million from January 1 to June 30, 2022.
• Up to $2 million from July 1, 2022 to June 30, 2023.
• Up to $1 million from July 1 to December 1. 31, 2023.
Subsequent minimum income guarantee payments for fiscal years 2023 and 2024 would be dependent on funding allocation through normal city and university fiscal year budget processes.
“This is another example of the strong collaborative efforts between the university and the city,” said Stillwater City Council Representative Christie Hawkins. “I am proud that the two continue to work together to provide the best services available to our community and those around us.”
Airlines across the country have been hit hard by increased operational costs from declining air travel, rising fuel prices and other pandemic-related impacts. Unprecedented shortages of pilots and other personnel have also forced them to make hard calls on the thing line to continue regional air service. In some cases, it has been necessary to assign pilots and crews to larger aircraft serving larger airports.