On Friday, April 14, the City of Pierre was informed by the U.S. Dept. of Transportation (USDOT) that Denver Air Connection (DAC) has been approved to provide two-hub service between Pierre and Denver and Pierre and Minneapolis.
“We’re very excited about the USDOT’s decision,” said Pierre Mayor Steve Harding. “For the 15 years that I’ve been on the City Commission, the public has been asking for air service to Minneapolis. We’re happy we can now deliver the option.”
DAC flights operate under an Essential Air Service (EAS) contract held between the USDOT and DAC. Although the new two-year contract begins June 1 this year, Mayor Harding says that he doesn’t anticipate any flight schedule change in the next two months.
“We don’t yet know how many weekly flights we’ll have between Pierre and Denver or Pierre and Minneapolis. The USDOT gave us flexibility to divide up our twelve weekly round trip flights as we see fit to make them as beneficial as possible for our traveling public.”
Harding also stated that he doesn’t expect any flights to Minneapolis to begin on June 1.
“We’ve already made contact with Denver Air this morning to start sorting through the options and the logistics, but it will take some time to determine a schedule,” said Mayor Harding. “There are people who already have tickets booked past June 1. We certainly don’t want to pull the rug out from under them.”
The City will make public announcements about flight schedule changes as details are determined.
USDOT EAS contracts subsidize air carriers to ensure rural communities, like Pierre, have access to commercial air service. The USDOT leads the contracting process by calling for proposals from airlines interested in the contracts and ultimately selecting the winning proposal.
In 2022, the Pierre Regional Airport had more than 16,000 commercial enplanements.