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Still flying

Brainerd Regional Lakes Airport Commission members push this message loud and clear: Commercial air traffic will continue to fly in and out of the Brainerd airport.

September’s enplanement figures at Brainerd were 150 passengers fewer than September of 2010, a significant drop, airport Manager Steve Sievek said Tuesday. Sievek said with that decline, coupled with repeated inquiries that staff members have received regarding the continuation of commercial air service, he’s convinced that the recent announcement of Delta Airline’s intent to pull its service from Brainerd has given potential passengers the wrong idea.

“We still have (air) service,” Sievek said explaining the misperception certain people have. “People hear what they want to hear.”

Sievek said the Oct. 12 deadline from carriers that might replace Delta likely will be extended and if it isn’t Delta is required to maintain services until a replacement can be secured. He said selection of a new air carrier is a long process and Brainerd possibly may maintain Delta service  until March 1.

Commissioner Rachel Reabe Nystrom, who also serves on the Crow Wing County Board, also emphasized that nothing is going to happen to Brainerd’s air service on Oct. 12.

Chair Beth Pfingsten suggested the commission issue a public service announcement clarifying the status of air service at the Brainerd airport.

In other action, the commission:

Selected a color scheme of silver and white with red trim for the jet that was recently taken down from its display pedestal at the airport to refurbished. Sievek said he expected the job to be completed sometime this fall and the weather will determine whether it can be placed up on its pedestal before winter.

“I expect it’s going to look pretty sharp,” Sievek said.

Agreed to paying a 20 percent share of costs for new emergency radios as emergency broadcasts transition away from the analog system. New radios are being considered for the crash rescue vehicle and two hand-held units. Pfingsten abstained from voting, noting that her nephew was the county’s emergency management director.

Approved the five-year Capital Improvement Plan. Among wish list items that Sievek wanted to get on the drawing board was the extension of city water and sewer to the airport, perhaps by 2014.

Heard Sievek report there have been a relatively low number of change orders for the airport terminal reporting project. Engineers with Short Elliott and Hendrickson said the project should be completed by the end of January .

Directed the airport manager to talk with interior decorators/designers and area artists about decor for the remodeled terminal. 

Set the next airport commission meeting for 9:30 a.m. Nov. 1 at the Historic Crow Wing County Courthouse.