The US bans SkyWest from shutting down service for 29 communities that have yet to be reviewed

A view of the exterior of the US Department of Transportation's Federal Aviation Administration in Aurora
FILE PHOTO: Exterior view of the US Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration in Aurora, Illinois September 26, 2014. REUTERS/Jim Young

March 14, 2022

By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Department of Transportation on Monday blocked regional airline SkyWest Inc from suspending service at 29 locations until replacement airlines can be found under the government’s subsidy program to offer air services to smaller communities.

SkyWest provides regional service for major airlines such as United Airlines, Alaska Airlines, Delta Air Lines and American Airlines. SkyWest operates the 29 routes under the United Express name and provides regional services for United Airlines.

SkyWest last week announced plans to end service to the 29 communities under the Essential Air Service subsidy program effective June 8, saying “pilot staffing challenges across the airline industry preclude” the airline from to continue service.

The Department of Transportation said SkyWest could not suspend service until July 8 “and possibly an additional 30 days” unless federal officials secure another carrier to provide services under the program in one of the 29 communities.

Some of the communities where United Express flights operated by SkyWest will be canceled are: Cape Girardeau, Joplin and Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri; Decatur, Illinois; Clarksburg and Greenbrier/Lewisburg, West Virginia; and Fort Dodge, Mason City and Sioux City, Iowa. Some others are: Muskegon and Houghton/Hancock, Michigan; Hattiesburg/Laurel, Mississippi; Johnstown, Pennsylvania; Kearney, Scottsbluff and North Platte, Nebraska; Salina, Liberal, Hays and Dodge City, Kansas; Eau Claire, Wisconsin; and Victoria, Texas.

Each route usually has a separate contract. Such contracts. Each contract typically has around $3 million in annual government subsidies.

SkyWest said it was “eager to work with officials on solutions that would allow us to reconnect these communities to the National Air Transportation System in the future, and we are committed to remaining flexible and adjusting our plans if the.” Situation improved faster than currently expected.”

The Transport Ministry said it would like other airlines to submit proposals by April 11 at the latest to offer flights to replace the canceled service.

United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby told Congress in December the airline grounded nearly 100 regional jets “because there aren’t enough pilots to fly them. … The country will need thousands of pilots.”

(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Will Dunham) The US bans SkyWest from shutting down service for 29 communities that have yet to be reviewed


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