City Manager: Keep flying out of Kearney

Skywest wants out, but can’t leave until federal government replaces them.
In a filing with the U.S. Department of Transportation, Skywest announced it intends to leave...
In a filing with the U.S. Department of Transportation, Skywest announced it intends to leave three Nebraska airports.(KNOP)
Published: Mar. 11, 2022 at 10:38 AM CST|Updated: Mar. 11, 2022 at 12:15 PM CST
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KEARNEY, Neb. (KSNB) - Skywest Airlines’ announcement about cancelling air service will have a “huge impact on local communities,” according to Kearney Mayor Stan Clouse.

Clouse told Local4 Friday morning that city officials don’t have an answer yet about how to move forward. He said the city is studying the Skywest filing to the Department of Transportation (DOT.) He also said the city is looking at its options.

In a DOT filling reported Thursday, Skywest announced that it would cancel its Denver service to Kearney, North Platte and Scottsbluff as well as 26 other airports around the country. The specific airports include the North Platte Regional Airport, the Western-Nebraska Scottsbluff Regional Airport, and the Kearney Regional Airport.

Skywest issued a 90-day termination notice that said it intends to eliminate EAS on or before June 10, 2022.

Kearney City Manager Mike Morgan told Local4 late Friday morning that while the news that Skywest wants to leave is disappointing, it doesn’t mean the end of flights to Denver from Kearney. Morgan said Skywest is under contract to the DOT until it finds an airline to replace them. He said travelers can continue to use Kearney airport while that happens.

The Utah-based airline, which operates under the United Airlines flag, is the only airline currently offering daily commercial flights to Denver in those three Nebraska cities.

Skywest is blaming pilot shortages.

“Although SkyWest Airlines, Inc. would prefer to continue providing scheduled air service to these cities, the pilot staffing challenges across the airline industry preclude us from doing so,” the airline said as part of its filing.

Essential air service is a government-subsidized program designed to help smaller communities that “were served by certificated air carriers before airline deregulation maintain a minimal level of scheduled air service.”

Of the other 26 airports, impacted states include Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Illinois, Michigan, Missouri, Mississippi, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, Wisconsin, and West Virginia.

Clouse said the Department of Transportation would likely seek bids from other air carriers to replace SkyWest, but it wasn’t immediately clear how soon they would start.

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