The Airport Board suggests that Wind River Air will not renew its permit to operate out of Jackson Hole Airport, but the alternative raises even more issues than it solves.
Commercial helicopter tour operator Wind River Air was slated to renew its permit to operate out of the Airport this spring, nearly 2 years after it was originally permitted in April 2020. The renewal hearing was postponed until the June Airport Board Meeting due to the airport closure; however, during the Airport Board meeting on Wednesday, board members suggested that Wind River Air has indicated that it will not be reapplying to operate out of the Jackson Hole Airport in 2022.
While exciting at face value, this decision nearly eliminates any oversight that the Airport had over Wind River Air’s activity in and around public lands. Wind River Air plans to continue to operate as a transient operator. This means that it will still be able to fly into and out of the Airport, but it will not be subject to the same degree of tracking by the Airport or be able to advertise itself as operating out of the Airport. Learn more about the implications of this decision in the April 20 Airport Board Meeting recording, here.
This decision reiterates the importance of communicating the need for comprehensive and enforceable regulations for commercial helicopter tours over Grand Teton National Park and adjacent public lands to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). As such, we must continue to bring our community’s concerns regarding commercial helicopter tours over our public lands and community to the FAA. The Board of County Commissioners are reviewing a letter for submission to the FAA at 8:00am on Monday, April 25, nearly a year after unanimously passing a resolution against commercial helicopter tours in our quiet skies. Check out the meeting agenda and instructions to join here. We encourage you to share your thoughts on this issue through public comment and to continue to ensure that our community’s concerns about this issue are heard by the FAA.