How One Airline Might Be Able to Keep Serving Missouri Cities
SkyWest Airlines, which operates regional services for United, Delta, American, and Alaska Airlines hopes to bid for Essential Air Service contracts at many of the airports it served until earlier this month. The airline is seeking U.S. Department of Transportation approval to pull 20 seats out of Canadair Regional Jets which will cap the jet's capacity at 30 people, which if approved, will allow the airline to fly them with pilots who have less flying time than regional jets with larger capacity. This is according to The Points Guy.
The Points Guy says there's a set of operating rules called Part 135, which while stringent, are still more relaxed than the rules in Part 121 that SkyWest and all other carriers operate under. Part 121 requires pilots to have an airline transport pilot certificate, which requires 1500 flight hours to obtain.
If SkyWest receives approval for its plan to operate regional jets with a maximum of 30 seats, the company will be in a position to hire pilots with a restricted airline transport pilot certificate which can be earned at 1250, 1000, or 750 flying hours.
If approved it could bring back SkyWest service to smaller Missouri, Illinois, and Kansas communities like Dodge City, Hays, Liberal, and Salina in Kansas. Decatur, Illinois. And Fort Leonard Wood, Joplin, and Cape Girardeau in Missouri. Although, The Points Guy says the service will be somewhat different.
First, the service won't be branded as a regional unit of one of the major airlines the company has relationships with, and secondly, the airline would run as a public charter service. This doesn't seem to impact how the public would see the airline, they'll still publish schedules and run similarly to any other airline. But on paper, the airline looks like it's flying charter flights.
The Points Guy doesn't detail exactly what Missouri and Kansas airports the service might bid on to serve if granted approval. So it doesn't guarantee service gets restored to every community I mentioned.
That said, service in small communities like Hays, Joplin, and Cape Girardeau can make the flying experience just a little bit easier than having to drive to a bigger city to board a flight to get where you're going. So I hope SkyWest can get their approval. And riding on a jet designed for 50, with only 30 seats. I'd imagine that will be one of the more comfortable and roomy rides on a regional jet most passengers will experience. Although, there's nothing roomy about flying on a regional jet, period.