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Published March 12, 2014, 10:02 AM

Devils Lake airport promotes new Denver connection

GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- Devils Lake officials are revving their promotional engines in advance of the return of commercial air passenger service to the region.

By: Kevin Bonham, Forum News Service

GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- Devils Lake officials are revving their promotional engines in advance of the return of commercial air passenger service to the region.

SkyWest Airlines, through its affiliation with United Express, will start providing 11 round-trip jet flights a week between Devils Lake, as well as Jamestown, N.D., and Denver, beginning June 5.

“With United pulling out of Grand Forks, that leaves Devils Lake with the closest air travel to Denver for this part of the state,” said John Nord, Devils Lake Regional Airport manager. “We’re hoping to entice some people to come over here.”

United Express provided a Grand Forks-Denver route from May 2012 to December 2013.

Devils Lake and Jamestown officially have been without commercial passenger air service since Jan. 31, when Great Lakes Airlines pulled out. However, air service had been spotty, with frequent flight cancellations over the past year, according to officials in both cities. Great Lakes had provided service to the Twin Cities.

Flights may be booked through UnitedAirlines.com, local travel agents or online travel services.

A check of the United website Tuesday showed round-trip fares between either Devils Lake or Jamestown and Denver ranging from $194 to $250 or more, depending on travel schedules.

That compares with flights between Fargo and Denver ranging from about $250 to $300 or more. United and Delta fly between Fargo and Denver.

Essential air contract

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Essential Air Service contract will pay SkyWest $6.34 million annually — $3.22 million for Devils Lake and $3.12 million for Jamestown — to provide service to the two cities. The contract ends June 30, 2016.

Passengers will fly United Express, with flights operated by SkyWest, on the 50-passenger Bombardier-manufactured Canadair Regional Jet 200, according to a news release from SkyWest.

That’s the same aircraft that United Express and SkyWest used in Grand Forks.

The Devils Lake and Jamestown schedules include flights five days per week, excluding Tuesdays and Saturdays. One nonstop flight is included to and from Denver and each city. The remaining daily flights will include a 30-minute stop in either Devils Lake or Jamestown.

“We know how important it is for communities to have reliable, local air service, and we are looking forward to starting these new flights in Jamestown and Devils Lake this summer,” Mike Thompson, SkyWest vice president of market development, said in the release.

Nord said one of the features Devils Lake will use to lure air travelers is free parking at the airport.

He said officials also are working on ideas to expand the route to other destinations.

“I think there’s still some cities beyond Denver that we need to look at, cities that would be attractive to people here,” he said.

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