Congressman Adrian Smith holds out hope a replacement can be found for PenAir, which has announced it plans to cancel flights from Denver to central and western Nebraska.
PenAir wants to quit service between Denver to Nebraska. PenAir, the regional airline company out of Alaska, has filed a request with the Department of Transportation to end Essential Air Service routes between Denver and three Nebraska cities: Kearney, North Platte, and Scottsbluff.
Smith blames a pilot shortage which he says is putting a squeeze on smaller airports.
“We have an issue with the pilot shortage that we need to address. And we need to do it quickly, before it impacts the larger airlines around the world,” Smith tells Nebraska Radio Network.
Smith says the pilot shortage might be hampering smaller, especially rural, airports now, but it could soon have a negative impact on all air travel.
Federal bureaucracy plays a role as well, according to Smith, who succeeded in attaching his Small Airport Regulation Relief Act to the Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization signed into law in July 2016. It would allow small airports to use enplanement numbers from 2012, before new pilot regulations took effect, to qualify for needed funding.
“But, I hope that we can make sure that the bureaucracy doesn’t stand in the way of a new provider coming in,” Smith says.
Smith says he is hopeful a replacement for PenAir can be found and air flights to Denver, Dallas, and other major airports continue.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:45]