Palm Beach, Fla.-based Southern Airways Express has been growing immensely since its founding in 2013, with its most recent rapid…
United Express Requests Termination of 29 EAS Routes
While the aviation industry is on the rise from the pandemic, pilot shortages are now facing carriers in full stride. But one area is being hit the most: small communities. Back at the beginning of January 2022, United exited 11 small cities all of which were served by small 50-seat regional aircraft, either the Embraer E145 or the CRJ-200.
More recently, in the middle of January 2022, SkyWest announced the request to terminate two smaller Essential Air Service (EAS) cities in upstate NY; Plattsburgh and Ogdensburg.
This month, Skywest, under the United Express brand, is now requesting to terminate 29 additional cities, all of which are in the government-funded EAS program. This is the full list of cities they are requesting to terminate:
- Alamosa, Colo.
- Pueblo, Colo.
- Fort Dodge, Iowa
- Mason City, Iowa
- Sioux City, Iowa
- Dodge City, Kansas
- Liberal, Kansas
- Salina, Kansas
- Paducah, Kent.
- Decatur, Ill.
- Houghton, Mich.
- Muskegon, Mich.
- Cape Girardeau, Missouri
- Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri
- Joplin, Missouri
- Meridian, Miss.
- Hattiesburg, Miss.
- Devils Lake, N.D.
- Jamestown, N.D.
- Kearney, Neb.
- North Platte, Neb.
- Scottsbluff, Neb.
- Johnstown, Penn.
- Victoria, Texas
- Shenandoah, Vir.
- Eau Claire, Wis.
- Clarksburg, W.V.
- Lewisburg, W.V.
All of the routes to the communities above are operated using 50-seat CRJ-200s and the airline is citing pilot shortages as the reason they are requesting termination.
The document posted on regulations.gov from Skywest says they are giving a “90-day notice” in all of the above communities. But, most of the cities are still in the middle of their EAS contract term and some have just recently started in the past 12-months. Similar to Plattsburgh and Ogdensburg, the DOT will most likely deny the request until a new carrier is found and start the EAS bidding process immediately.
It is interesting to note that the only cities SkyWest is terminating are operating under the United Express banner, they are not ending any of the 15 cities that they operate on behalf of Delta Connection at this point in time.
If they are all approved, that means that the United brand will have left 42 cities in just over six months. All of them are small, underserved or government-funded communities on 50-seat jets.
This will be the end of all EAS contracts under the United Express banner east of Wyoming, with the exception of Presque Isle, Maine. The only remaining EAS cities that will still see scheduled service on a United branded aircraft are Presque Isle, Maine; Laramie and Cody, Wyo.; Dickinson, N.D.; Prescott, Ariz.; Vernal and Moab, Utah and finally West Yellowstone, Mont. during the summers only.
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