Watertown airport in danger of losing subsidized flight.

Oh well, it was a good way to get to Denver while it lasted. 

But this morning it sounds that the convenience of the Watertown/Pierre/Denver flight from ADI/Great Lakes might have been too much of a good thing:

Federal officials say the subsidy level in the city has surpassed $200 per passenger. Federal rules say any EAS community within 210 miles of a major hub airport must maintain a subsidy level below that mark, and the Transportation Department says Watertown is 207 miles from the Minneapolis airport.

Watertown Mayor Steve Thorson maintains the center of the city of 22,000 people is actually 4 miles farther west than under the government’s measurement. Thorson adds that he is not worried.

Read that at Today’s KCCR.

6 Replies to “Watertown airport in danger of losing subsidized flight.”

  1. Anonymous

    So how do the rules describe “within 210 miles”? If it uses a city boundary, the mayor’s argument falls flat; if it uses the center, as the mayor is using, perhaps there is an argument. However, I’m not sure why there should be another subsidy from the federal government (my, your, our taxpayer dollars) for something like this.

    1. Anonymous

      It’s the center of the city. This has been a known issue for years, not a huge surprise to Watertown or to ADI or to the federal government.

  2. Noddy Holder

    Pretty sure Mayor Thorson considers himself a conservative and Republican, yet he’s all too eager to grab for as much federal corporate welfare as he can get if it keeps his vanity project airline in the air, so to speak. Oh, and I think the USDOT goes by where City Hall or the heart of city government is, and they’ve got a lot of precedent for that. Besides, with all due respect to Thorson, this game with calculating mileage to the gate of MSP was tried already, when USDOT published their initial denial in May. Not sure what part of the document’s title “Final Order” his honor doesn’t understand.

    Do you realize USDOT is subsidizing Pierre and Watertown to the tune of $7M? What’s funny is that Thorson himself says Watertown folk have options. Like just driving a little more than an hour down the interstate to Sioux Falls where they can choose from several airlines with dozens of direct flights a day to Minneapolis, Detroit, Seattle, even Denver. It boggles my mind this claim that Watertown folk want to fly through Denver. So to get to DCA they’d have travel about 16 hours: ATY – PIR – DEN – DTW – DCA. Wow. And that’s with a handy trip out of security to claim their luggage to take it back to a United counter and then go back through security. Good thinking, Mayor Thorson!

    ADI was de-funded on their initial venture in the scheduled, commercial airline racket by the airport authority at Youngstown, Ohio. The Youngstown – Chicago route never got going more than 30% or so occupancy so the city pulled the plug on them after 6 weeks. The publicly stated reason was that ADI’s not having any interline ticketing or baggage agreements, particularly nothing with United which is huge in Chicago, meant travelers were greatly inconvenienced so they just hopped in their cars to drive to Pittsburgh or Cleveland to fly an actual United or Delta flight.

    It will be interesting to see what happens if USDOT stands by their own ruling. I suppose Watertown will get Kristi Corporate Welfare to bail ’em out or something, though. If that doesn’t happen and ADI drops this Watertown gambit, is Governor Wannabe Gill’s precious building there in Pierre going to lose it’s airline?

  3. Noddy Holder

    Oh, but it’s not pork if it’s in our back yard, and we’re all in favor of free market enterprise until it hurts us. Besides, government subsidizing ADI to fly out of Watertown only cuts into Delta’s and United’s and the other airlines’ business in Aberdeen and Sioux Falls.