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SkyWest Ordered to Continue Service to Rural and Small Airports

ALPA Applauds DOT Position, Citing Public Funding During Pandemic

The Air Line Pilots Association has commended the Department of Transportation on its work in ensuring continued airline service to small and rural communities throughout the US. 

ALPA noted the recent taxpayer subsidies issued to SkyWest in recent years, bolstering their bottom line and hopefully maintaining service to those areas that might otherwise be unprofitable. The airline recently notified the Department of Transportation of its intent to discontinue Essential Air Service to 29 cities, citing problems in staffing flights amidst a small but growing pilot shortage. The Department rejected that plan, demanding the airline continue service to each city until a replacement is established.

“We urge the DOT to remain vigilant in calling out and blocking efforts by companies such as SkyWest Airlines to accept federal relief funds and then cut routes,” wrote Capt. Joe DePete, ALPA president. “All Americans sacrificed during the pandemic and contributed to helping others get through the worst public health and economic crisis in a century. Those same Americans made sacrifices so that SkyWest could survive, and it is an outrageous affront to hardworking US. taxpayers that the company’s management is now turning their backs on those who helped them.”

The issue highlights the increasingly tenuous, interconnected relationship between the private airline industry and the United States federal government. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, government support became vital to continued operations of many airlines, a favor that should, as ALPA believes, buys some measure of public fealty. 

“This experience should serve to remind SkyWest Airlines that because of PSP (Payroll Support Program) that support provided by Congress and U.S. taxpayers, including the critical provision in the American Rescue Plan, the company enjoys a stable economic position that has allowed it to retain and build its employee ranks,” added DePete. “The airline’s blatant attempt to cherry-pick certain EAS communities over others exposes not a pervasive staffing concern but an intentional decision to prioritize lucrative markets.”



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