A man who helped restore commercial passenger flights in Pierre, S.D., will be the new manager of the Lewiston-Nez Perce County Regional Airport.

Michael Isaacs, the manager of Pierre’s airport, was chosen unanimously Monday by the airport’s authority board from a field of four candidates.

The other finalists were Mark H. Mellinger, the former director of the Texarkana Regional Airport Authority in Texarkana, Ark.; Joseph W. Goetz, an airport operations manager at the Crater Lake Klamath Regional Airport in Oregon; and Jeffrey Smith, of Portland, Ore., who most recently worked at the consulting firm of Mead & Hunt.

“It’s a great fit for us,” authority board Chairman Gary Peters said of selecting Isaacs.

One of Isaacs’ strengths is the experience he gained in South Dakota when he encountered circumstances similar to those in Lewiston, said board member Mandy Miles.

Horizon Air, a subsidiary of Alaska Airlines, left Lewiston in August 2018. About 60 percent of Lewiston’s passengers traveled on Horizon Air’s Boise and Seattle flights. SkyWest continues to serve Lewiston with flights to Salt Lake City.

The Pierre airport faced an even more serious situation and was without service for 2½ months this year after a number of setbacks.

It was one of 24 cities to lose Delta with little notice. The airline ran Minneapolis flights used by two-thirds of the passengers who flew through the airport, Isaacs said.

It was left with Denver service from Great Lakes Airlines, which folded because of a pilot shortage, he said.

California Pacific Airlines followed, but it then ceased operations while it went through restructuring.

With the help of federal funds for air service in rural areas, the airport recruited United Express flights operated by SkyWest to Denver, Isaacs said.

“They have been back since April,” Isaacs said. “They have been breaking records every month.”

Security and recruiting more destinations for Lewiston will be top priorities when he starts no later than Feb. 18.

“It’s another challenge,” he said.

Isaacs will earn $125,000 per year plus health insurance, $200 a month for a vehicle, $75 per month for a cellphone and as much as $5,000 in relocation fees.

He will replace interim airport Manager Clarence W. “Bill” McKown Jr., who has been at the airport almost one year and didn’t apply for the full-time position.

McKown will stay in his job for a week or two after Isaacs arrives to help with the transition.

In other business the board:

Heard an update about paid parking that was instituted Jan. 1. The airport has made $5,259 so far. Of 392 spaces, 91 are occupied. The fee is $5 per vehicle per day and is discounted after the first 10 days.

Voted to recognize Friends of the Airport as an unofficial group to promote the airport. The airport board had previously cut ties with the group in September 2018 when it was comprised of different members. One of the board’s concerns then was the group’s criticism of Stephanie Morgan, who was airport manager before being fired in November 2018.

Williams may be contacted at ewilliam@lmtribune.com or (208) 848-2261.

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