SkyWest Airlines is a North American regional airline headquartered in St. George, Utah. SkyWest is classified as one of the major airlines of the United States. However, as a regional airline and primarily serves major air carriers via contracts with American Airlines (as American Eagle), Delta Air Lines (as Delta Connection), Alaska Airlines (as Alaska SkyWest) and United Airlines (as United Express). SkyWest is primarily paid to operate and maintain aircraft used on flights that are scheduled, marketed, and priced by a partner mainline airline. In all, it is the largest regional airline in North America when measured by fleet size, number of passengers carried, and number of destinations served between all the airlines it contracts with.
|Hubs||as American Eagle:
as Alaska SkyWest:
as Delta Connection:
as United Express:
|Frequent-flyer program||AAdvantage (as American Eagle)|
Mileage Plan (as Alaska SkyWest)
SkyMiles (as Delta Connection)
MileagePlus (as United Express)
|Alliance||SkyTeam (as Delta Connection)|
Star Alliance (as United Express)
Oneworld (as American Eagle)
|Parent company||SkyWest, Inc.|
|Headquarters||St. George, Utah, United States|
|Key people||Jerry Atkin (Chairman)|
Chip Childs (President and CEO)
Mike Thompson (COO)
SkyWest operates an average of more than 2,200 flights per day to 250+ cities in the United States, Canada, Mexico, and the Bahamas with an extensive network of routes largely set up to connect passengers between smaller airports and the large hubs of its partner airlines. In total, SkyWest carried 35.9 million passengers in 2017.
Under various contracts, the company operates an average of 897 flights per day as Delta Connection on behalf of Delta Air Lines, 812 flights per day as United Express on behalf of United Airlines, 332 flights per day as American Eagle on behalf of American Airlines, and 144 flights per day as Alaska SkyWest in partnership with Alaska Airlines.
The vast majority of SkyWest's contracts are fixed-fee, with partner airlines paying a set amount for each flight operated, regardless of the number of passengers carried. The remaining 7% of flights are operated under a pro-rate contract, with SkyWest assuming all costs, setting fares, retaining all revenue from non-connecting passengers, and splitting the fares of connecting passengers on a pro-rated basis with the partner airline. SkyWest currently operates on a pro-rate basis on 68 routes across 10 hubs through agreements with American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and United 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.
On September 6, 2017, SkyWest Airlines reported that it has entered into aircraft purchase agreements and capacity purchase agreements to acquire and fly 15 new aircraft with Delta Air Lines and 10 new aircraft with Alaska Airlines. Of the 25 aircraft, 15 Embraer E175 SC aircraft will fly under an agreement with Delta in a 70-seat configuration. The E175 SC aircraft has an E175 airframe and can be retrofitted to 76 seats in the future. The agreement with Alaska includes 10 Embraer E175s, which will be configured with 76 seats, similar to aircraft SkyWest has previously placed into service with Alaska. Expected delivery dates of the 25 aircraft run from March 2018 through the end of 2018.
On December 18, 2018, SkyWest, Inc. announced that it would sell ExpressJet Airlines to another airline holding company with ties to United Airlines, ExpressJet's sole client. The $70 million sale closed on January 23, 2019.
SkyWest flies to 251 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.
SkyWest has the largest fleet of any regional airline in the United States. Since 2015, the airline exclusively operates jet aircraft.
SkyWest, like most regional airlines in the United States, is subject to scope clause requirements of its mainline carrier partners and their pilot unions. Those requirements limit the size of the aircraft flown by regional airlines, measured in seat capacity. This has created three subgroups of aircraft flown by SkyWest: aircraft with no more than 50 seats, no more than 70 seats and no more than 76 seats.
|Aircraft||In service||Orders||Passengers||Operated for||Notes|
|50 Seat Jets|
|Bombardier CRJ100||3||—||—||4||46||50||Delta Connection|
|Bombardier CRJ200||84||4||46||Delta Connection|
|Total For Category||195|
|70 Seat Jets|
|Bombardier CRJ700||43||—||9||16||40||65||American Eagle|
|Bombardier CRJ900||11||9||12||20||38||Delta Connection||Orders to be delivered through 2020.|
|Embraer 175 SC||30||—|
|Total For Category||142|
|76 Seat Jets|
|Bombardier CRJ900||31||—||12||20||44||76||Delta Connection|
|Embraer 175||32||3||12||52||Alaska Airlines||Orders deferred until 2020.|
|Embraer 175-E2||—||100||Launch customer.|
Delivery starting 2021.
|Mitsubishi SpaceJet M90||—||100||Delivery starting 2020.|
|Total For Category||152|
SkyWest previously operated Embraer EMB-120 Brasilia turboprop aircraft until 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:
Accidents and incidentsEdit
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 four serious and nine 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 5724, 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 operating for Delta Connection  was stolen by a SkyWest pilot on administrative leave, after murdering his girlfriend several days earlier, and substantially damaged at the St. George Regional Airport in St. George, Utah. The pilot started the engines and taxied the aircraft into a parking lot, striking the terminal and damaging several parked cars in the process. He would die from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. The aircraft was out of service and there were no other passengers or crew on board.
- 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.
- December 4, 2016: SkyWest Airlines flight 5588, an Embraer E175 operating as a United Express flight from Houston Intercontinental Airport, TX to Monterrey, Mexico, was diverted to San Antonio, TX after experiencing an abnormal landing gear indication. Upon landing, the nose gear of the aircraft collapsed, and the aircraft came to rest on runway 04. Of the 51 passengers and 4 crew members, only one minor injury was sustained during the evacuation. During recovery of the aircraft, it was discovered that a failed downlock spring on the nose gear had prevented the landing gear from locking in the down position.
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- Snyder, Brett (December 20, 2018). "There is a Reason United's Purchase of ExpressJet is So Complicated". Cranky Flier. Retrieved January 25, 2019.
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...20 new Bombardier CRJ900 aircraft..." "...aircraft will have the ATMOSPHÈRE cabin with a 70-seat, dual-class configuration...
- "SkyWest orders more jets it will fly for Alaska Air, reflecting Horizon's troubles". Seattle Times. September 6, 2017.
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- "SkyWest MRJ90 commitment unchanged". 24 January 2017. Retrieved 17 October 2017.
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