By Joey Gerardi
SkyWest Requests More Route Terminations
United — through its regional carrier United Express — ended service to 11 small cities around the country, not more than two weeks ago. Unfortunately, in the next 90-days, they will be adding two more destinations to that list both of which are located in northern New York State. St. George, Utah-based SkyWest Airlines operates many Essential Air Service (EAS) government-funded flights to communities across the country, but even that subsidy wasn’t enough to save the United’s service to the communities of Plattsburgh, N.Y. and Ogdensburg, N.Y.
Both communities receive twice-daily flights onboard SkyWest-operated Bombardier CRJ-200s to Washington Dulles. SkyWest sent a document to the Department of Transportation (DOT) with a letter of intent to stop services to each community and pull out of the active, ongoing EAS contract.
The current term EAS contract in Plattsburgh is set to expire in roughly six months, on June 30, whereas the EAS contract in Ogdensburg still has over two years to go with that one expiring on March 31, 2024. The DOT could theoretically deny the intent to leave. It isn’t a 100 percent guarantee, and the agency could tell the current carrier to stay until the contract expires. However, as long as another carrier steps up to fill the void with their own contract, then there is a good chance the airline will not be serving either when summer rolls around.
North Country Public Radio cites the loss of the airline, as a response to the closed Canadian border causing a loss of 2/3 of the passengers since the pandemic started. Allegiant Air — who served Ogdensburg and catered primarily to Canadian traffic — ceased services in 2020 and has made no plans to return to the airport. According to NNY360, a news station in Northern New York, SkyWest was “navigating staffing shortages generated by a surge in Covid-19”, and that was the primary reason for leaving the Ogdensburg, N.Y.
On the other side of the state in Plattsburgh, N.Y., the Press-Republican has a quote from the chairman of the county’s airport committee, Bobby Hall, who said, “They didn’t want to leave because they were doing very well here, but they just don’t have the staff, so they are pulling out of the Northeast”. Spirit Airlines pulled out of Plattsburgh, N.Y. in the early months of the pandemic, but Allegiant does offer semi-daily flights to destinations in Florida.
As the bidding process hasn’t begun yet for either city, there is no telling what airlines will bid for it or who might win. Flights and schedules are subject to change.