DOT grants waiver for fewer flights at Sioux Gateway Airport, but airline says it won’t use it
SIOUX CITY (KTIV) - The U.S. Department of Transportation says SkyWest Airlines, Sioux City’s only air carrier, may fly as few as seven weekly round-trip flights. But the airline, which operates United’s Express service, says the waiver is only meant to provide flexibility. SkyWest says it will continue to provide at least twelve weekly round-trip flights, at least for now.
They initially asked the DOT to leave the airport, but they’ve been ordered to stay because they receive a government subsidy. The DOT now says SkyWest can fly as few as seven round-trip flights each week, but the airline says it will continue its full service for now.
“And another thing regarding the waiver. So they did allow the flexibility for SkyWest, if needed, but there’s no plans right now to change flight schedule,” said Mike Collett, Sioux City Assistant City Manager.
In a statement, SkyWest says the waiver was intended to give the airline flexibility so it could drop flights if needed.
“We have been working closely with Sioux City airport and community leaders to ensure we are able to provide solid, reliable service for our customers. This includes a request for additional flight schedule flexibility if it is needed in the future. We are not currently planning any changes to our flight schedules at Sioux Gateway Airport and encourage travelers to continue flying Sioux Gateway Airport whenever they are planning a trip.”
Both city officials and the airline say business is continuing as normal for now.
“Because it does ultimately affect our carrier service here, demand is important. So every time we come up with a new destination over the past few years, or new flight, it all still hinges on the community using our airport, and for that demand level to stay high,” said Collett.
But SkyWest has not withdrawn its request to leave the airport in the future, and the DOT can only order the airline to stay in 30-day increments... or until another air carrier is selected by the DOT.
Another airline, Boutique Air, has put an application to take over service, but the plan has near-unanimous opposition from city leaders and the Airport Board of Trustees.
SkyWest may file the proper paperwork to stay long-term if its plans to use rules meant for charter planes for part of its scheduled service in Sioux City.
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