(City of Pocatello Press Release, October 6, 2021)
As part of a systemwide response to decreased demand, SkyWest Airlines announced that it is temporarily reducing service to Pocatello and Twin Falls airports along with more than a dozen other airports served by the regional airline.
Recently, Pocatello Regional Airport was notified that effective November 2, the Delta flight schedule between Pocatello and Salt Lake City will be reduced to a single arrival and departure daily. The flight will arrive in Pocatello at 12:33 p.m. each day, and depart at 1:15 p.m.
“The entire industry has been affected by reduction in demand due to the lingering effects of the pandemic,” said Alan Evans, Airport Manager. “The online meeting has become a common practice in business everywhere. We’ve seen a serious decline in business travel into and out of Pocatello, as have the other airports affected by SkyWest’s decision. In fact, business travel has dropped everywhere in the United States and across the world.”
Evans stated that he and his staff have discussed the schedule change with SkyWest and expressed their concern about both the reduction in the number of daily flights and the scheduled flight time. However, SkyWest was not able to accommodate the airport’s requests for additional flights nor a change in the flight time.
Evans went on to explain that SkyWest’s decision is affecting what are called “at-risk” markets.
“In ‘at-risk’ markets, the regional airline, SkyWest in this case, assumes all of the operating costs for flying those routes, and has more control over pricing and scheduling. In traditional ‘contract’ markets, the major airline, i.e. Delta Airlines, guarantees SkyWest’s basic operating costs for every flight by paying SkyWest a contract rate to operate each flight, regardless of the number of passengers,” Evans said.
“Unfortunately,” Evans continued, “when demand drops, as it has in all of the affected markets, SkyWest has no choice but to reduce the number of flights. The airline can’t afford to fly those planes empty when their operating costs are not being guaranteed by Delta. Now that leisure travel has dropped off and business travel is down across the entire industry, SkyWest had to make the difficult decision to reduce the number of daily flights.”
“We have every reason to think this is a temporary situation,” said Mayor Brian Blad. “SkyWest still has three daily flights scheduled for Christmas week, so you’ll still be able to get home for Christmas or bring family in. And right now, the airline schedule still shows three flights daily resuming in spring. The pandemic has affected our entire society, including the airline industry. But we have a great relationship with SkyWest. When traffic increases to profitable levels, they’ll undoubtedly resume full service.”
Blad went on to state that the best thing the community could do is to be proactive about booking flights out of Pocatello for the spring.
“It’s absolutely true that if you do the math, it’s less expensive to ‘Fly Pocatello’ than it is to drive to Salt Lake City for your flights,” Blad said. “And there’s absolutely no doubt that it’s far more convenient and comfortable, as so many people in the area have discovered. So if you’ve been thinking about flying somewhere this spring, book your flight now. You’ll save money and help ensure regular service resumes as soon as possible.”
Anyone wanting to contact SkyWest to discuss their concerns over the reduced schedule for Pocatello can reach SkyWest’s Corporate Communications at https://skywest.com/contact-skywest.