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Delegation pushes for essential air service designation for Devils Lake, Jamestown

North Dakota’s Congressional delegation is throwing its weight behind the airline the Devils Lake and Jamestown airports prefer for their essential air service contracts.

“Both Devils Lake and Jamestown have experienced numerous problems with their current EAS contract, and have communicated an interest in pursuing a new route option to Denver,” Sens. John Hoeven, R-N.D., and Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., and Rep. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., said in a joint letter to the U.S. Department of Transportation.

“Because there are fewer regular routes to Denver from North Dakota, the airports would be well positioned to attract ridership to the nearest major western hub and subsequent connecting cities,” they said.

Both Devils Lake and Jamestown are pitching to replace Great Lakes Airlines with Sky West Airlines. Great Lakes has been blamed for having too many canceled flights, which resulted in fewer boardings at both airports.

EAS is a federal subsidy that ensures smaller, less busy airports continue to be served by airlines. The program, however, requires a minimum of 12-round trips a week, which Devils Lake and Jamestown’s favored airlines would not provide.

The delegation asked that DoT waive the requirement because the two airports prefer fewer trips if service is more reliable.