|Founded||April 26, 1972|
|Hubs||See § Operations|
|Parent company||SkyWest, Inc.|
|Headquarters||St. George, Utah, United States|
SkyWest Airlines is an American regional airline headquartered in St. George, Utah, United States. SkyWest is paid to staff, operate and maintain aircraft used on flights that are scheduled, marketed and sold by a partner mainline airline. The company is contracted by Alaska Airlines (as Alaska SkyWest), American Airlines (as American Eagle), Delta Air Lines (as Delta Connection), and United Airlines (as United Express). 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.
SkyWest operates an average of more than 2,400 flights per day to 240 cities in the United States, Canada and 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 36 million passengers in 2021.
As of December 31, 2021[update], the company operates an average of 870 flights per day as United Express on behalf of United Airlines, 650 flights per day as Delta Connection on behalf of Delta Air Lines, 410 flights per day as American Eagle on behalf of American Airlines, and 150 flights per day as Alaska SkyWest on behalf of Alaska Airlines.
Frustrated by the limited extent of existing air service, Ralph Atkin, a St. George, Utah, lawyer, purchased Dixie Airlines on April 26, 1972, to shuttle businessmen to Salt Lake City. 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 early 1986, 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 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.
From 1995 through 1997, SkyWest operated codeshare service for Continental Airlines as Continental Connection on flights out of Los Angeles that were also operated as Delta Connection.
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 EMB 120s and Bombardier CRJ200 regional jets. CRJ700s were added in the early 2000s and the Embraer 175 were added in 2014.
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 EMB 120s.
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.
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 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 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 Bombardier 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 CRJ700/900 aircraft were introduced to the American Eagle system in 2016 and the smaller CRJ200s were discontinued in 2020. Embraer 175 aircraft joined 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 175SC aircraft will fly under an agreement with Delta in a 70-seat configuration. The E175SC aircraft is built on the same airframe as other E175 aircraft and can be retrofitted to 76 seats in the future. The agreement with Alaska includes 10 Embraer 175 aircraft 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 $70 million sale closed on January 23, 2019.
SkyWest is owned by SkyWest, Inc., an airline holding company. SkyWest also provides contract ground handling services at airports across the United States.
The vast majority of SkyWest's contracts are fixed-fee, with partner airlines paying a set amount for each flight operated, regardless of the number of passengers carried. The remaining 7% of flights are operated under a pro-rate contract, with SkyWest assuming all costs, setting fares, retaining all revenue from non-connecting passengers, and splitting the fares of connecting passengers on a pro-rated basis with the partner airline. SkyWest currently operates on a pro-rate basis on 68 routes across 10 hubs through agreements with American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and United Airlines.
As of early 2021, SkyWest operates to 50 smaller cities that are subsidized under the federal governments' Essential Air Service program. 36 are served under the United Express brand and 14 under the Delta Connection brand. Service to four other airports in Wyoming are subsidized by the state of Wyoming and operate under the United Express brand. All subsidized routes are flown with Bombardier CRJ200 regional jets.
Performance figures for SkyWest Airlines are fully incorporated into the accounts of its parent company, SkyWest, Inc.
Figures that are available for SkyWest Airlines alone (referred to as 'SkyWest Airlines segment' data in the Group accounts), are shown below (as at year ending December 31):
|Profit before tax (US$m)||106||140||76||182||23||263||307||250||-92||1.5|
|Number of passengers (m)||40.3||43.7||21.3||36.6|
|Number of aircraft [a]||334||362||348||368||422||470||483||452||509|
As of February 2022[update], SkyWest flies to 250 destinations throughout North America across 47 states, 5 Canadian provinces and 10 Mexican cities.
SkyWest has the largest fleet of any regional airline in the United States. Since 2015, the airline has exclusively operated jet aircraft. Most Skywest aircraft are painted in the livery of partner carriers, but SkyWest does have a small number of aircraft in its own livery that can be operated for any partner airline as needed.
SkyWest is a major operator of the CRJ family of regional jets, and is the largest operator of the Bombardier CRJ200 and took delivery of the last CRJ ever built, a CRJ900.
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.
As of January 2023[update], the SkyWest Airlines fleet consists of the following aircraft, categorized by seating capacity:
|Aircraft||In service||Orders||Passengers||Operated for||Notes|
|Up to 50 seats|
|Bombardier CRJ200||22||—||—||4||46||50||Delta Connection||To be retired by 2024.|
|Up to 70 seats|
|Bombardier CRJ700||80||10||9||16||40||65||American Eagle||Orders are used aircraft to be delivered through 2023.|
|Bombardier CRJ900||13||—||12||20||38||70||Delta Connection|
|Embraer 175SC||37||—||12||20||38||70||Delta Connection|
|Up to 76 seats|
|Bombardier CRJ900||28||—||12||20||44||76||Delta Connection||16 jets to be replaced by Embraer 175 starting in 2022.|
|Embraer 175||42||—||12||52||Alaska Airlines|
Note: the above chart only shows aircraft in scheduled service. It does not include aircraft owned by SkyWest but that are: 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:
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