ALAMOSA – SkyWest Airlines will be the new Essential Air Service (EAS) provider at SLV Regional Airport effective October 1 for the next two years, announced airport manager Will Hickman on Thursday. SkyWest will provide Alamosa with 12 round trip flights per week to Denver International Airport (DIA) using 50-seat Canadair Regional Jet 200 (CRJ-200) aircraft.
The airline will receive an EAS subsidy of $3,505,574 per year from the U.S. Department of Transportation. SkyWest will be replacing Boutique Air who has held the EAS contract since Oct. 1, 2018. Boutique and a third airline, Key Lime Air Corporation, had also applied for the new contract before the SLV Airport Board in April.
SkyWest was recommended to and approved by the county board of commissioners. The ability to book flights with United Airlines to and from the SLV was cited as well as more liberal baggage policies with recommending SkyWest. Average one-way airfare with SkyWest is projected to be around $80. Based in St. George, Utah, SkyWest operates in partnership with Alaska Airlines, American Airlines and Delta Air Lines in addition to United.
According to its EAS proposal for SLV Regional, SkyWest has a fleet of 484 aircraft and has been connecting small communities to the national transportation system for 47 years. Employing over 13,000 aviation professionals, the airline operates about 2,400 daily flights to 258 destinations across North America. SkyWest typically operates with the 50-seat CRJ200, “a quiet and modern twinjet that is both safe and fast.”
All CRJ-200 aircraft are serviced by a flight attendant and each plane features a restroom. In the airline’s proposal to Alamosa, it stated that “SkyWest 50-seat jets provide the best opportunity for passenger growth. Passengers also benefit greatly from seamless connectivity to one of the largest global airlines in the world.”
Hickman recently announced that SLV Regional had more than 10,000 enplanements in 2019, qualifying the airport for $1 million in funding for improvements through the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
SkyWest plans to operate out of Alamosa as United Express and indicated it will invest $20,000 annually to market the air service. In a letter of support to the transportation department, county commissioners said “these codeshare agreements with other airlines will make it easier and more affordable for travelers to visit the San Luis Valley for business or pleasure using the 50 seat CRJ-200, allowing families and large groups to fly together on the same flight, which was previously never possible.
“On behalf of Alamosa County, we are excited to begin this next chapter of air service with SkyWest Airlines and believe that the San Luis Valley and surrounding areas will greatly benefit from this service,” Hickman said. “I would also like to thank Boutique Air for their partnership and admirable service that they provided to our community over the last 4 years.”
The DOT also received several letters from community organizations and individuals strongly supporting SkyWest’s proposal, for which Hickman said he is thankful. “Additionally, thanks goes out to our federal delegates including Senator Gardner, Senator Bennett and Congressman Tipton, who have always been strong advocates of the Essential Air Service program,” Hickman said.