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The Associated Press

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — Great Lakes Aviation and the Cheyenne Airport have joined a new lobby for regional airlines and rural airports.

Regional Aviation Partners, a nonprofit group based in Phoenix, was formed in April.

“This is a very creative thought,” Cheyenne Airport Manager Jerry Olson said.

The major airlines have a powerful lobby in the Air Transport Association. Now, commuter airlines and small airports have a voice.

“We are at a crisis point for air service to small communities,” Olson said. “In my opinion, deregulation for the large majority of airports is not working.”

The top 70 airports in the United States are moving 90 percent of the passengers, leaving little traffic for smaller airports.

“The pendulum has swung too far,” he said.

Douglas Voss, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Great Lakes Aviation, said Congress needs to be made more aware of smaller communities’ problems.

“Today, there’s really not a cohesive voice for turboprop service,” he said.

His fleet, based in Cheyenne and servicing 15 states, consists mostly of 19-seat turboprops.

“There needs to be a lot of creativity because the status quo is not working,” he said.

Olson said he does not advocate eliminating deregulation because it has created substantial benefits.

“It has served the major airports very well,” he said. But smaller airports and airlines should be boosted through a better federal subsidy program than the one that exists, he said.

“I think we can have our cake and eat it, too,” he said.

Also joining the lobbying group is Fly Cheyenne, devoted to improving use of air service in Cheyenne.

Copyright 2001 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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