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RIVERTON — Seats sold out a month in advance for a round-trip charter flight to Elko, Nev., that is intended to bolster passenger numbers at Riverton Regional Airport.

At least 10,000 people must fly into and out of the airport each year for it to retain a $1 million airport entitlement grant from the Federal Aviation Administration.

The 119-seat flight will depart Sept. 11 and return two days later.

"We're hoping the sellout will enable us to do another flight this year," Mayor's Assistant Bill Urbigkit said Friday.

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The 5,619 passengers who flew through Riverton through July was about 1 percent less than those who flew through the airport over the first seven months of 2002.

"We booked the flight with Casino Express, of Elko, and since this sold out well in advance of the flight, there's no reason not to expect they'll do this again," said Cindy Paulsen, who helped arrange the flight.

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Urbigkit said the Transportation Security Agency officials at the airport have been notified in advance and have been making arrangements to screen the 119 passengers as quickly as possible. "We've also received help from Wind river Transportation Authority, which will bus the passengers from the main terminal to where the charter jet will be parked," he said.

He explained that the Boeing 737 is too heavy to pull up to the airport terminal but the tarmac at a former terminal site is strong enough to support the plane.

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