SkyWest Airlines is a North American airline owned by SkyWest, Inc. and headquartered in St. George, Utah, USA. Financially speaking and according to the Airlines for America definitions, SkyWest is a North American major airline. SkyWest however, operates on a regional airline level and is a member of the Regional Airline Association. SkyWest Airlines flies to 180 cities, in 43 states; Washington, D.C.; seven Canadian provinces and five cities in Mexico and the Bahamas. The airline serves as a feeder airline, operating under contract with various major carriers. It flies as SkyWest Airlines in a partnership with Alaska Airlines, as United Express on behalf of United Airlines, as US Airways Express on behalf of US Airways, as Delta Connection on behalf of Delta Air Lines, and as American Eagle on behalf of American Airlines.
As of February 2014, SkyWest employs 10,558 people throughout North America. The airline averages 1,714 departures a day, with 1,018 operating as United Express, 491 operating as Delta Connection, 89 operating as US Airways Express, 87 operating as American Eagle and 29 operating as Alaska Airlines. In total, SkyWest carried 27 million passengers in 2013. The current Chairman and CEO of SkyWest, Inc. is Jerry Atkin, with Michael Thompson as Chief Operating Officer of SkyWest Airlines.
Frustrated by the limited extent of existing air service, Ralph Atkin, a St. George, Utah lawyer, purchased Dixie Airlines to shuttle businessmen to Salt Lake City in 1972. After early struggles, SkyWest began steady expansion across the Western US. It became the eleventh largest regional carrier in 1984 when it acquired Sun Aire Lines of Palm Springs, California, and had its initial public offering in 1986.
In 1985, SkyWest began codesharing as Western Express, a feeder service for Western Airlines at its Salt Lake City hub, later acquired by Delta. In 1995, SkyWest began operating flights for Continental Airlines out of LAX. The relationship was discontinued two years later when SkyWest began flying for United Airlines. SkyWest's United Express flights out of SFO, LAX and DEN became its largest operation by the late 1990s. A partnership with Continental was revived in 2003 out of George Bush Intercontinental Airport, but was discontinued in June 2005. On August 15, 2005, Delta announced that it was selling Atlantic Southeast Airlines to the newly incorporated SkyWest, Inc. for $425 million in cash. The acquisition was completed on September 8, 2005.
On August 4, 2010, SkyWest Inc. announced that it planned to acquire ExpressJet Airlines and merge it with SkyWest subsidiary Atlantic Southeast Airlines in a deal reported to have a value of $133 million. The purchase aligned the largest commuter operations of United Airlines and Continental Airlines, who were in a merger process, and was approved on September 13, 2010, by the Federal Trade Commission.
In February 2011, Alaska Airlines announced SkyWest would be replacing six Horizon Air flights on the West Coast beginning May 14. The flights were scheduled to based out of Seattle and Portland, and fly to several California cities including Fresno, Burbank, Santa Barbara and Ontario. Alaska Airlines has similar agreements with PenAir for Alaskan flights and Horizon Air for flights in the lower 48.
In June 2011, AirTran Airways announced that it would end codesharing and partnership with SkyWest effective September 6, 2011. Two months later, SkyWest announced a codesharing agreement with US Airways, effective early to mid-2012, to operate CRJ200 aircraft from US Airways' hub in Phoenix, Ariz.
In September 2012, SkyWest announced that it would begin a capacity purchase agreement with American Airlines for 12 CRJ200 aircraft from American's hub in Los Angeles, California, effective November 15, 2012.
SkyWest flies to 180 destinations throughout North America including Denver International Airport, Salt Lake City International Airport, San Francisco International Airport, Los Angeles International Airport, Chicago O'Hare International Airport, Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and Portland International Airport.
|Embraer EMB 120ER Brasilia||45||—||—||—||—||30||30||(28) United Express||17 unbranded aircraft|
|Bombardier CRJ100ER||7||—||—||—||—||—||50||50||(4) Delta Connection, (2) United Express||1 unbranded aircraft|
|Bombardier CRJ200ER||149||(43) Delta Connection, (66) United Express
(11) US Airways Express, (12) American Eagle
|17 unbranded aircraft|
|Bombardier CRJ700ER||8||1||—||—||—||—||70||70||Alaska Airlines |
|Bombardier CRJ900||32||8||—||—||12||12||52||76||Delta Connection|
|4||—||9||—||67||76||US Airways Express|
|Mitsubishi MRJ90||—||—||100||100||TBA||TBA||Enter service in 2017|
|Embraer E-175||6||34||—||12||—||64||76||United Express||Deliveries continue through 2015|
|Embraer E175-E2||—||—||100||100||TBA||TBA||Enter service in 2020|
In July 2012, SkyWest, Inc announced an agreement to purchase 100 Mitsubishi MRJ90 to be split between its two subsidiaries, SkyWest Airlines and ExpressJet Airlines. The aircraft are scheduled to begin service in 2017. In December 2012, SkyWest and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries confirmed a deal reached in July 2012 at the Farnborough Airshow for 100 MRJ90 aircraft, with an additional 100 options. Deliveries of the aircraft to SkyWest are scheduled to start in 2017 and would be split between its two subsidiaries, SkyWest Airlines and ExpressJet Airlines. Due to Mitsubishi Aircraft development delays on the MRJ90 though, any optioned plane would not be delivered until after 2021.
In May 2013, SkyWest, Inc. came to an agreement with Embraer to purchase 100 E-175 Regional Jets, with an option for up to 100 more. Deliveries are slated to begin in April 2014. The first 40 aircraft will be flown by SkyWest Airlines, under a 12-year capacity purchase agreement with United Airlines, in a 76-seat, dual class configuration. The following month, SkyWest, Inc. came to an agreement with Embraer to purchase 100 Embraer E175-E2 Regional Jets, with an option for up to 100 more. SkyWest Airlines will be the launch customer for these second generation E-Jets, with deliveries slated to begin in 2020.
SkyWest Airlines partnerships
SkyWest Airlines has code sharing agreements with Delta, United, Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, and US Airways. These code sharing agreements allow SkyWest Airlines to operate as United Express, Delta Connection, US Airways Express, American Eagle, and Alaska Airlines. Delta, United, Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, and US Airways provide reservations, ticket sales, ground support services, and gate access while SkyWest Airlines handles the flight operations. Under all of SkyWest agreements, passengers are allowed to participate in the other airlines’ frequent flyer program.
Delta Air Lines
On September 8, 2005, SkyWest and Delta Connections entered a code sharing agreement. As of December 31, 2012, SkyWest Airlines operated 21 CRJ900s,13 CRJ700s, and 52 CRJ200s for Delta Connection. SkyWest Airlines operates these aircraft to provide feeder service between Delta hubs and other destinations chosen by Delta. As of December 31, 2012, SkyWest Airlines was operating approximately 519 Delta Connection flights per day.
Under the SkyWest - Delta Connection agreement, SkyWest Airlines receives from Delta reimbursement for all of the direct costs related to the flight; including fuel, ground handling, and maintenance, and aircraft ownership cost. SkyWest also receives a fixed payment for each completed flight hour.
The SkyWest - Delta Connection agreement ends on September 8, 2020, unless Delta elects to use its option to extend the agreement for up to four five-year terms. The agreement can also be terminated with 30 days’ notice if SkyWest fails to meet the agreed upon obligations. These obligations include if SkyWest fails to conduct its flight operations and maintenance of its aircraft under the terms of the agreement or in compliance with government regulations. The contract can be terminated if SkyWest Airlines fails to maintain performance and safety requirements or if either airline files for bankruptcy or reorganization. The contract can also be terminated if SkyWest Airlines fails to maintain a competitive rate among other regional airlines.
On July 31, 2003, SkyWest and United Express entered into a code sharing agreement. As of December 31, 2010, SkyWest Airlines operated 70 CRJ700s, 83 CRJ200s, and 44 Embraer 120 turboprops under the SkyWest United agreement. SkyWest flights are used provide feeder service between United hubs and other lower density destinations.
Under the agreement, United retains all air fares, cargo rates, mail charges and other revenues associated with each flight. SkyWest then receives from United a fixed fee for each flight hour, departure, passenger, and a fixed-fee for overhead and aircraft costs.  SkyWest also receives one time startup cost for each aircraft delivered. The code-sharing agreement also provides certain incentives based upon SkyWest performance. These incentives include on-time arrival performance and completion percentage rates. Direct operating costs are also reimbursed by United. These cost include fuel, aircraft ownership, and maintenance costs.
The SkyWest United agreement ends on December 31, 2015. United has the option of extending the agreement for an additional five years. However, the agreement is subject to early termination if SkyWest or United fails to fulfill certain obligations agreed to under the code sharing agreement. The agreement will be terminated if SkyWest operations fall below certain performance levels for a period of three consecutive months. The agreement will also be cancelled if either airline files for bankruptcy or for reorganization. The agreement is also subject to early termination if SkyWest operates any aircraft that is supposed to be operated exclusively for United flights for any other purpose.
On February 25, 2011, SkyWest Airlines entered an agreement with Alaska Airlines. The SkyWest Alaska Airlines agreement means that SkyWest operates and maintains its aircraft, while Alaska Airlines is responsible for scheduling, pricing and marketing the flights. SkyWest Airlines currently flies to 10 destinations in the United States for Alaska Airlines. Those cities include Seattle to Omaha, Colorado Springs, Long Beach, Santa Barbara Steamboat Springs/Hayden, and Fresno, Boise to San Diego, plus Portland to Burbank, Ontario, Santa Barbara and Long Beach. Skywest will begin flying Salt Lake City to Portland, Seattle, and San Diego in mid-2014. As of 2014, SkyWest operates eight Bombardier CRJ-700s on these routes. Alaska Airlines passengers flying on SkyWest flights will also qualify for Alaska Airlines’ frequent flier program.
On September 12, 2012, SkyWest Airlines and American Airlines entered agreement. The agreement is a four-year agreement that allows SkyWest to handle some of its regional flying as a way to save money while American is in bankruptcy protection. SkyWest will fly 23 Bombardier CRJ200s under the American Eagle designation.
On December 16, 2011, SkyWest Airlines signed a three year agreement with US Airways. The agreement calls for SkyWest to operate 14 CRJ200 regional jet aircraft as US Airways Express. SkyWest will operate all of these flights out of Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport as a feeder operation for the airport.
Accidents and incidents
SkyWest Airlines has never been cited or found at fault in a fatal accident or incident. Incidents include:
- January 15, 1987: SkyWest Airlines Flight 1834 a Fairchild Metro collided with a Mooney M20 transporting an instructor and a student, while on a flight between Pocatello to Salt Lake City in the vicinity of Kearns. All 10 people on Flight 1834 and the two occupants of the Mooney were killed. The accident was found to be a navigation error of the student pilot aboard the Mooney.
- January 15, 1990: SkyWest Airlines Flight 5855, a Fairchild Metro collided with terrain during an instrument approach to Elko, Nevada. There were 4 serious and 9 minor injuries.
- February 1, 1991: SkyWest Airlines Flight 5569, a Fairchild Metro was awaiting departure clearance on an active runway at Los Angeles for a scheduled flight between Los Angeles and Palmdale when USAir Flight 1493 arriving from Columbus, Ohio collided with it while it was landing. Skywest 5569 was directed to move onto runway 24L for takeoff and hold in position at the intersection of taxiway 45. US1493 was cleared to land on 24L one minute later by the same local controller. One minute later, the 737 touched down, then landed on the SkyWest Metro, which was still holding in position 2400' from the runway threshold. The two planes slid down the runway, then off to the side, coming to rest against an unoccupied firehouse, and burst into flames. All 12 people on the Metro were killed (10 passengers and 2 pilots), and 22 of the 89 aboard the 737 perished (20 passengers, 1 pilot and 1 flight attendant). The cause was found to be Air Traffic Controller Error.
- May 21, 1997: SkyWest Flight 724, an Embraer EMB-120, N198SW, experienced a total loss of engine power to the right engine and associated engine fire, followed by a total loss of all airplane hydraulic systems, after takeoff from San Diego International-Lindbergh Field, San Diego, California. The airplane sustained substantial damage. The 2 pilots, 1 flight attendant, and 14 passengers were not injured. Skywest Airlines, Inc., was operating the airplane as a scheduled, domestic, passenger flight under 14 CFR Part 121. The flight was destined for Los Angeles, California. It diverted to Miramar NAS, San Diego, where it landed at 14:27 military time. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time, and an IFR flight plan was filed.
- May 26, 2007: SkyWest Airlines flight 5741, an Embraer 120, was involved in a serious runway incursion when the plane nearly collided with Republic Airlines flight 4912, an Embraer 170, on intersecting runways at San Francisco. There were no reported injuries to passengers and no reported damage to either aircraft. According to the NTSB the FAA traffic controller was at fault and the aircraft were between 50 and 300 feet apart.
- January 13, 2008: A United Airlines Boeing 757 jet with maintenance workers on board at San Francisco International Airport backed into SkyWest Airlines Flight 6398, a Bombardier CRJ700 carrying 60 passengers and crew. The collision occurred at 7:30 p.m. as the 757 was being taken out of service and being moved without passengers from Gate 80 to a hangar for the night. The passengers on board the SkyWest plane were taken off the plane, which had left its gate and was waiting to depart to Boise, Idaho. Both planes suffered tail and engine damage, but no one on board either plane was injured.
- September 7, 2008: SkyWest Airlines flight 6430, a Bombardier CRJ700 operating as a United Express flight from Los Angeles, California ran off a runway after landing in San Antonio, Texas. An airport spokesman indicated that the aircraft appeared to be having mechanical difficulties, and resulted in the airport's primary runway being closed for two hours until the aircraft could be removed. No injuries were reported among the 52 passengers and four crew members on board.
- May 23, 2010: SkyWest Airlines flight 6467, a Bombardier CRJ200 operating as a United Express flight from San Francisco, California landed in Ontario, California with the nose gear retracted. No injuries were reported among the 24 passengers and three crew aboard.
- July 17, 2012: An out-of-service SkyWest Bombardier CRJ200 d/b/a Delta Connection liveried aircraft was stolen by a SkyWest pilot on administrative leave, after murdering his girlfriend a couple days earlier, and substantially damaged at the Saint George Municipal Airport in St. George, Utah, USA. The plane was stolen, then moved to the parking lot from the terminal. The individual who stole it eventually died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. The aircraft was out of service and there were no passengers or crew at or near the aircraft or airport.
Awards and recognition
- 1987: Named Commuter/Regional Airline of the Year by Air Transport World
- 2000: Named Top Regional Airline of the Year by Professional Pilot Magazine
- 2000: Named Best Managed Regional Airline by Aviation Week & Space Technology Magazine
- 2001: Named Best Managed Regional Airline by Aviation Week & Space Technology Magazine
- 2002: Named Regional Airline of the Year by Air Transport World
- 2003: Named Number One On-Time Mainland Airline by the Department of Transportation
- 2003: Jerry Atkin named Regional Jet Executive of the Year by Commuter/Regional Airline News
- 2004: Named Number One On-Time Mainland Airline by the Department of Transportation
- 2004: Received an Aviation Maintenance Technician Gold Award from the FAA
- 2005: Named Number One On-Time Mainland Airline by the Department of Transportation
- 2005: Named Best Managed Transportation Company by Forbes Magazine
- 2005: Received an Aviation Maintenance Technician Gold Award from the FAA
- 2006: Received an Aviation Maintenance Technician Diamond Award from the FAA
- 2007: Received the first Bombardier Airline Reliability Performance Award for the Americas (CRJ100/200 and CRJ700/900 categories)
- 2008: Received the Bombardier Airline Reliability Performance Award for the Americas (CRJ100/200 category)
- 2010: Received the Bombardier Airline Reliability Performance Award for the North America (CRJ100/200 category)
- 2011: Received the Bombardier Airline Reliability Performance Award for the North America (CRJ100/200 category)
- 2011: Received an Aviation Maintenance Technician Gold Award from the FAA
- 2012: Received the Fly Quiet Regional Airline Award from Seattle–Tacoma International Airport
- 2012: Received the Bombardier Airline Reliability Performance Award for the North America (CRJ100/200 and CRJ700/900 categories)
- 2012: Received an Aviation Maintenance Technician Gold Award from the FAA
- 2013: Named Regional Airline of the Year by Air Transport World
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