Editorial | Keeping SkyWest the best option for Johnstown Airport and its customers | News
Since the announcement in late April that SkyWest Airlines had canceled plans to leave Johnstown Airport, negotiations between the carrier and the local airport authority have taken on an optimistic tone.
Keeping SkyWest would be the best way out of this uncertain situation. Some 20,000 passengers have flown to and from Dulles International Airport near Washington, D.C., and O’Hare International Airport in Chicago over the past year, the airport’s highest passenger rate of Johnstown since 2005.
Clearly, local travelers love SkyWest’s destination options and the airline’s 50-seat jets, which fly as part of the United Airlines system.
“Our preference is to maintain flights to (Johnstown),” SkyWest’s corporate communications staff told reporter David Hurst in a statement.
We hope this is the end result of a topsy-turvy period for John Murtha Johns-town-Cambria County Airport – and SkyWest.
The airline announced in March that it would end service to Johnstown and 28 other airports, despite strong local results.
SkyWest receives payments through the federal Essential Air Services program to serve smaller markets and has been in Johnstown since 2020.
In announcing its intention to discontinue service, SkyWest pointed to a pilot shortage caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Working with the Johnstown Airport Authority, the US Department of Transportation is collecting proposals from potential carriers and has set a May 11 deadline. Then the DOT would begin negotiations to serve all 29 airports.
Johnstown Airport Manager Cory Cree said he has been told SkyWest is among companies planning to submit plans to DOT – a pitch that will include “creative ways to continue to be able to provide services to EAS communities,” he said.
SkyWest told The Tribune-Democrat the company was looking for “scheduling flexibility” in a new contract.
Cree said that if negotiations with SkyWest lead to a positive conclusion – for the airline and the airport, shall we say – “they will withdraw their notice of termination and continue to provide services under their contract, which will continue until December 2023”.
We strongly support local leaders’ efforts to keep SkyWest flying out of Richland Township Airport until 2023 – and well beyond – although where it will eventually land is in the air, for so to speak.
Cree said, “Our goal is to work with SkyWest to resolve their personnel and piloting issues so they can continue to provide reliable service in the Johnstown area.”
He said: “We are pleased with the service SkyWest has provided throughout their stay here. We want to be supportive and would like his service to continue here at the airport, but we want to better understand the proposed service changes before providing support for those changes.
It is a fair approach.
The airport authority voted on Wednesday to have its boarding committee negotiate a contract with SkyWest, then report the results to the transportation department – which has the final say on service at the 29 locations where SkyWest now operates.
SkyWest and Johnstown Airport have developed a relationship that has been fruitful for both.
We urge the US Department of Transportation to fully consider extending SkyWest’s contract at Johnstown.