Aug. 26—CHEYENNE — Commercial flights out of Cheyenne Regional Airport are expected to resume on Sept. 10 as the 160-day renovation project for Runway 09-27 comes to an end.
The third and final phase of the $62 million project to reconstruct the 3,600-foot runway began on April 1, which once again suspended all scheduled airline services with SkyWest, the regional carrier of United Express. Tim Bradshaw, director of aviation for Cheyenne Regional Airport, said he was confident the runway would be reopened to commercial flights by Sept. 10.
"The first flight is supposed to come in the night of Sept. 9; that's what they call the 'overnight flight,'" Bradshaw said. "The first flight is already scheduled."
As the concrete of the newly redone runway cures, airport officials continue to test the tensile strength of the runway to be sure it will properly hold an aircraft.
The process is more complex than repaving a road, Bradshaw said, and the runway has to meet the Federal Aviation Administration's standards.
Despite a rainy summer, Bradshaw confirmed the wet weather has had no impact on the curing concrete.
"The rain doesn't necessarily affect the concrete too much," he told the Wyoming Tribune Eagle on Friday.
Reconstruction of the runway included grooving the pavement and setting up lights along the outer edges. The average lifespan of an airport runway is 50 years, said Bradshaw, who joked that he didn't plan on being around long enough for the next runway reconstruction.
The entire project of reconstructing Runway 09-27 was federally funded, paid for by the FAA, Wyoming Department of Transportation (using federal money) and the United States National Guard, according to Bradshaw.
Wendy Volk, president of Cheyenne Regional Air Focus Team (CRAFT), said talks of adding new airlines are ongoing, but the first priority is to get flights from Cheyenne to Denver back up and running again.
"Right now, for us, we've just got to make this one a home run," Volk said.
The reconstruction of a "brand new, beautiful terminal and a brand new, beautiful runway" are hoped to entice new airline partnerships, Volk said.
The local airport has already received "tremendous" feedback in the past regarding the convenience of free parking and its close proximity to the downtown area.
"Why not Cheyenne? This will be the perfect time to look at Cheyenne," Volk said.
CRAFT is a 501(c)4 nonprofit entity with a mission to "improve air service" and increase travel choices and opportunities in the Cheyenne region.
In 2021, Wyoming voters passed Proposition 6 under the specific purpose (sixth-penny) sales tax, which will fund $823,361 toward parking expansion at CYS.
"We are getting an expansion on the parking lot, which will be a beautiful enhancement, because it is becoming popular, and people want to park here," Volk said.
The airport offered other amenities that are expected to return with commercial flights, including a community room, rental car services and a new potential restaurant. CYS used to be home to Billy Jack's Pizza, a restaurant which opened last summer but failed to remain in business, according to Bradshaw. There are currently no restaurants available inside the airport, but the director said there are plans in the works to put in another eatery after Sept. 10.
Commercial flight services are now available for purchase from Cheyenne to Denver, and potential flyers can purchase their ticket through the United Airlines reservation website, united.com/en-us/flights.
Hannah Shields is the Wyoming Tribune Eagle's state government reporter. She can be reached at 307-633-3128 or email@example.com. You can follow her on X @happyfeet004.