SkyWest Airlines is a North American airline owned by SkyWest, Inc. and headquartered in St. George, Utah, U.S.. 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 203 cities, in 43 states; five 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 American Eagle on behalf of American Airlines, and as Delta Connection on behalf of Delta Air Lines.
As of September 2016, SkyWest Airlines employed 11,760 people throughout North America. The airline averages 1,716 departures a day, with 838 operating as United Express, 665 operating as Delta Connection, 135 operating as American Eagle and 77 operating as Alaska Airlines. In total, SkyWest carried 30.1 million passengers in 2015. The current Chairman of SkyWest, Inc. is Jerry Atkin, with Russel "Chip" Childs as CEO and Michael Thompson as President and 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 a steady expansion across the western U.S.. 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 and other mainline Western destinations utilizing Embraer EMB-120 Brasilia and Fairchild Swearingen Metroliner turboprop aircraft. Following the acquisition and merger of Western by Delta Air Lines in 1986, SkyWest then became a Delta Connection air carrier with code share service being flown on behalf of Delta to destinations in Arizona, California, Colorado, Montana, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming. 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 sold 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 May 2011, SkyWest replaced six Horizon Air flights on the West Coast being operated for Alaska Airlines. The flights were 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.
On September 6, 2011, AirTran Airways ended its codesharing and partnership with SkyWest. Shortly after, SkyWest began a codesharing agreement with US Airways to operate CRJ200 aircraft from US Airways' hub in Phoenix, Arizona.
SkyWest flies to 203 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.
Current and future jet fleet
As of July 2016, the SkyWest fleet consists of the following regional jet aircraft either in current operation or on order for future delivery:
|Bombardier CRJ100||4||—||—||—||—||50||50||Delta Connection|
|Bombardier CRJ200||15||—||—||—||—||50||50||American Eagle|
|Bombardier CRJ700||4||—||—||—||—||70||70||Alaska Airlines |
|Bombardier CRJ900||36||—||—||12||12||52||76||Delta Connection||3 aircraft leased from Endeavor Air|
|Embraer E175||13||7||—||12||12||52||76||Alaska Airlines||Deliveries thru 2017|
|3||16||—||12||20||44||76||Delta Connection||Deliveries Aug 2016 - Summer 2017|
|52||13||—||12||16||48||76||United Express||Deliveries thru 2017|
|Embraer E175-E2||—||100||100||TBA||TBA||Enter service in 2020|
|Mitsubishi MRJ90||—||100||100||TBA||TBA||Enter service in 2017|
SkyWest was also a large operator of the Embraer EMB-120 Brasilia turboprop aircraft; the last examples of the type were retired in May 2015. The airline also previously operated Fairchild Swearingen Metroliner turboprops (Metro II and Metro III models). In 1984, SkyWest was operating the largest Metro propjet fleet in the world with 26 aircraft and by 1991 the Metro fleet had grown to 35 aircraft with 15 Brasilia propjets being operated as well. By 1994, the first jet, a Canadair CRJ-100, was added to the fleet and by 1996 all of the Metro propjets had been retired as they were progressively replaced with Brasilia aircraft.
According to the airline's website, at its inception SkyWest was operating all flights in the early 1970s with small propeller driven, piston engine aircraft including:
- Piper Cherokee 140 - two (2) passenger seats
- Piper Cherokee Arrow - four (4) passenger seats
- Piper Cherokee Six - six (6) passenger seats
- Piper Navajo - eight (8) passenger seats
- Piper Navajo Chieftain - nine (9) passenger seats
With the retirement of the Embraer EMB-120, SkyWest is now an all-jet airline.
In July 2012, SkyWest, Inc, agreed to purchase 100 Mitsubishi MRJ90. 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. 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. In 2015 the airline signed an order for an additional 18 Embraer 175 aircraft with the first to be delivered in 2016 to fly under the United Express name.
SkyWest is to phase out its Embraer EMB 120 aircraft by summer 2015 to reduce costs and thereby transition to an all-jet fleet.
Pilots and Flight Attendants are based in the following cities:
- Chicago, Illinois - O'Hare International Airport
- Colorado Springs, Colorado - Colorado Springs Airport
- Denver, Colorado - Denver International Airport
- Detroit, Michigan - Detroit Metropolitan Airport
- Fresno, California - Fresno Yosemite International Airport
- Houston, Texas - George Bush Intercontinental Airport
- Los Angeles, California - Los Angeles International Airport
- Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota - Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport
- Palm Springs, California - Palm Springs International Airport
- Phoenix, Arizona - Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport
- Portland, Oregon - Portland International Airport
- Salt Lake City, Utah - Salt Lake City International Airport
- San Francisco, California - San Francisco International Airport
- Seattle/Tacoma, Washington - Seattle-Tacoma International Airport
- Tucson, Arizona - Tucson International Airport
SkyWest Airlines partnerships
SkyWest Airlines has code sharing agreements with Delta, United, Alaska, and American Airlines. These code sharing agreements allow SkyWest Airlines to operate as United Express, Delta Connection, American Eagle, and Alaska Airlines brands. Delta, United, Alaska Airlines, and American Airlines 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 April 1, 1987, SkyWest and Delta Air Lines entered a code sharing agreement with SkyWest operating as the Delta Connection. SkyWest had previously operated a code sharing agreement with Western Airlines as Western Express since 1985. Western Airlines was merged into Delta Airlines on April 1, 1987. 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.
SkyWest initially flew as a Delta Connection air carrier in the western U.S. beginning in 1986 operating Embraer EMB-120 Brasilia and Fairchild Swearingen Metroliner turboprops with service to destinations in Arizona, California, Colorado, Montana, Utah and Wyoming via a code sharing agreement with Delta.
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. The airline is currently in the midst of retiring all of its Brasilia propjet aircraft. SkyWest flights are used provide feeder service between United hubs and smaller 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.
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. As of 2015, SkyWest operates eight Bombardier CRJ-700s for Alaska Airlines. On November 25, 2014, Alaska Airlines announced SkyWest will operate seven two-class Embraer E-175 aircraft for Alaska Airlines from July 2015. On June 1, 2015, Alaska Airlines announced that it would exercise its eight options on E-175s to replace the eight CRJ-700s SkyWest Airlines operates for a total of 15 E-175s.
SkyWest Airlines currently flies to 18 destinations throughout the United States and Canada for Alaska Airlines. Those cities include Boise, Bozeman, Burbank, Colorado Springs, Edmonton, Fresno, Las Vegas, Milwaukee, Oklahoma City, Omaha, Ontario (CA), Salt Lake City, Santa Barbara, San Diego, San Jose (CA), St. Louis, Steamboat Springs/Hayden and Tucson.
Alaska Airlines passengers flying on SkyWest flights qualify for Alaska Airlines’ MileagePlan frequent flier program.
On September 12, 2012, SkyWest Airlines and American Airlines entered agreement. The agreement is a four-year contract that allows SkyWest to handle some of its regional flying as a way to save money while American was in bankruptcy protection. SkyWest flys to a number of American Eagle destinations, mostly operating out of the Chicago O'Hare, Los Angeles, and Phoenix Sky Harbor hubs.
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 St. George Regional 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.
- April 22, 2015: SkyWest Airlines flight 5622, which took off from Chicago-O'Hare bound for Hartford, Connecticut, made an emergency landing in Buffalo, New York, after a passenger lost consciousness.
- May 11, 2015: SkyWest Flight 5316, a Bombardier CRJ200 operating as a United Express flight from Monterey, California to Los Angeles, California landed after its landing gear failed to fully deploy. The left wing scraped the ground on Runway 24 Left. All 40 passengers and three crew members safely deplaned and no injuries were reported.
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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