There will be no jet service between Cody and Denver this summer as some had hoped, but efforts are already under way to make it happen next year.
Local organizers negotiating with United Airlines said a time crunch and contractual uncertainties forced them to abandon the proposal for this year and take up the cause for next summer.
"I'm very confident it s going to happen," said state Sen. Hank Coe, R-Cody, one of the project organizers.
Coe and a group of locals called the Yellowstone Air Service Organization had been pushing for months for a deal that would allow a 50-seat jet to fly daily between Cody and Denver this summer.
Under the proposal SkyWest, which already runs service from Cody to Salt Lake City for Delta Airlines, would contract with United to work as a carrier to Denver.
But United officials wanted to make sure they wouldn't lose money on the deal. They asked for a revenue guarantee pledge from local sponsors. The Cody group came up with about $100,000 in pledges to be paid to United if fewer people than expected decided to utilize the jet service.
The proposal had also been limited to service just in July with options to extend it into September if it was successful.
Last week, though, issues in the contract gave some "heartburn" to United officials, Coe said. There were also concerns about whether there was enough time to adequately promote the jet service and issues that have hampered travel recently, such as the economy and the war in Iraq.
The deal was called off but not before both sides agreed to keep talking about the idea for next year, Coe said.
"We didn't burn any bridges with United," Coe said. "We will continue to have a dialogue with them and hopefully we'll have something lined up by late fall for next summer."
Coe said he was pleased with the response his group got this spring as they shopped the idea around Park County and sought pledges for the revenue guarantee.
He figures that local residents will agree again to pledge money, if needed, for jet service because it will pay off for the local economy.
"Cody and the Park County area is rapidly becoming a destination area; a lot of that's due to the (Buffalo Bill Historical) museum, and by the way people can visit Yellowstone while they're here," he said. "That market is getting bigger every year."
The call for jet service to Denver arose out of dissatisfaction with Great Lakes, which currently provides service to Denver with a 19-seat plane. Coe is hoping that United, or another carrier interested in regional jet service, is willing to step in to make something better happen.
As efforts ramp up now for 2004, Coe said there will be more time to prepare and iron out issues with marketing and contracts.
"We plan on getting this ball rolling as quickly as we can," he said.