SkyWest Airlines is an American regional airline headquartered in St. George, Utah, United States. It primarily serves major air carriers via contracts with Alaska Airlines (as Alaska SkyWest), American Airlines (as American Eagle), Delta Air Lines (as Delta Connection), 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:|
|Focus cities||as Alaska SkyWest:|
|Parent company||SkyWest, Inc.|
|Headquarters||St. George, Utah, United States|
SkyWest operates an average of more than 2,400 flights per day to 250 cities in the United States, Canada, Mexico 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 1,050 flights per day as Delta Connection on behalf of Delta Air Lines, 900 flights per day as United Express on behalf of United Airlines, 370 flights per day as American Eagle on behalf of American Airlines, and 160 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.
As of early 2021, SkyWest operates to 50 smaller cities that are subsidized under the federal governments' Essential Air Service program. 36 are served under the United Express banner and 14 under the Delta Connection banner. Service to four other airports in Wyoming are subsidized by the state of Wyoming and operate under the United Express banner. All subsidized routes are flown with Bombardier CRJ100/200 regional jets.
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 1987, 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 1997 SkyWest began operating as United Express in addition to Delta Connection on flights out of United Airlines hubs at SFO, LAX and DEN. SkyWest became United's largest United Express operation by the late 1990s. Flights were initially operated with Embraer Brasilia's and Bombardier CRJ200 regional jets. CRJ 700's were added in the early 2000's and Embraer 175's were added in 2015.
A partnership with Continental was revived in 2003 as Continental Connection out of George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston, but was discontinued in June 2005. This operation used Embraer Brasilia's.
In 2007 SkyWest began code sharing with Midwest Airlines at the carriers hubs in Milwaukee and Kansas City using Bombardier CRJ200 regional jets. In 2010 the code share with Midwest had ended and a new code share agreement began with AirTran Airways at Milwaukee. 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 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 Horizon Air on six routes 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. Horizon Air had been operating these routes with Bombardier CRJ700 series aircraft however Horizon retired this aircraft from its fleet. Alaska Airlines had a similar agreement with PenAir for Alaskan flights and Horizon Air for flights in the lower 48.
On November 15, 2012, SkyWest began a capacity purchase agreement with American Airlines for 12 CRJ200 aircraft operating as American Eagle from American's hub in Los Angeles, California. This code share agreement with American was greatly expanded over the next several years to include destinations from American's hubs at Chicago, Dallas/Fort Worth, and Phoenix. Larger Bombardier CRJ700 series aircraft were introduced to the American Eagle system in 2016 and the smaller CRJ-200's were discontinued in 2020. Embraer 175's are scheduled to join the American Eagle system in late 2021.
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 $70 million sale closed on January 23, 2019.
Ownership and structureEdit
Performance figures for SkyWest Airlines are fully incorporated into the accounts of its parent company, SkyWest, Inc.
Figures that are available for SkyWest Airlines alone (referred to as 'SkyWest Airlines segment' data in the Group accounts), are shown below (as at year ending December 31):
|Profit before tax (US$m)||106||140||76||182||23||263||307||250|
|Number of passengers (m)||n/a||40.3||43.7|
|Number of aircraft (in service)(at year end)||334||362||348||368||422||470||483|
SkyWest flies to 255 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, Washington Dulles 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 has exclusively operated jet aircraft.
Like most regional airlines in the United States, SkyWest 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 a regional airline, 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|
|Up to 50 seats|
|Bombardier CRJ200||38||—||—||4||46||50||Delta Connection|
|Up to 70 seats|
|Bombardier CRJ700||61||29||9||16||40||65||American Eagle||Orders are used aircraft to be delivered by the end of 2021.|
|Bombardier CRJ900||12||1||12||20||38||70||Delta Connection||Order to be delivered in 2021.|
|Embraer 175 SC||37||—|
|Up to 76 seats|
|Bombardier CRJ900||27||—||12||20||44||76||Delta Connection|
|Embraer 175||32||—||12||52||Alaska Airlines|
|—||20||20||44||American Eagle||Orders to be delivered starting in late 2021 and ending in 2022.|
Note: the above chart only shows aircraft in scheduled service. It does not include aircraft that are: owned by SkyWest but leased to other operators, removed from service, transitioning between agreements with partners, used as spares, parked, or in the process of being parted out.
SkyWest previously operated Embraer EMB-120 turboprop aircraft until 2015. The airline also 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 also being operated. By 1994, the first jet, a Bombardier 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, Idaho to Salt Lake City, Utah in the vicinity of Kearns, Utah. All 10 people on Flight 1834 and the 2 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 LAX for a scheduled flight to Palmdale, California when USAir Flight 1493, a Boeing 737-300 arriving from Columbus, Ohio collided with it while it was landing. Skywest 5569 was directed to position and hold on runway 24L 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 2,400 feet (730 m) 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 Airlines 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 Airport, San Diego, California. The airplane sustained substantial damage. The 2 pilots, 1 flight attendant, and 14 passengers were not injured. Skywest Airlines 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 local time. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time, and an IFR flight plan was filed.
- May 26, 2007: SkyWest Airlines flight 5741, an Embraer EMB-120, was involved in a serious runway incursion when the plane nearly collided with Republic Airlines flight 4912, an Embraer E170, on intersecting runways at San Francisco International Airport. 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 ft (15 m) and 300 ft (91 m) apart.
- January 13, 2008: A United Airlines Boeing 757-200 jet with maintenance workers on board at San Francisco International Airport backed into SkyWest Airlines Flight 6398, a Bombardier CRJ-700 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 CRJ-700 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 4 crew members on board.
- May 23, 2010: SkyWest Airlines flight 6467, a Bombardier CRJ-200 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 3 crew aboard.
- July 17, 2012: An out-of-service SkyWest Bombardier CRJ-200 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 CRJ-200 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 George Bush Intercontinental Airport to Monterrey, Mexico, was diverted to San Antonio International Airport 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 1 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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