Flights in the air at the airport | News, Sports, Jobs
HOUGHTON – SkyWest Airlines has indicated its intention to bid to serve Houghton County Memorial Airport as part of the new round of Essential Air Services bids, Airport Manager Dennis Hext told the County Board of Houghton Wednesday night.
Bids are due Oct. 13 for the next EAS service cycle, which would cover two years beginning Feb. 1, 2023. The federal program provides subsidies for airlines to provide service to rural markets that would otherwise be carrierless.
SkyWest gave 90 days notice in March to withdraw EAS flights at Houghton and 30 other airports, citing a shortage of pilots.
The Department of Transport blocked the withdrawal, ordering SkyWest to provide 12 flights a week until another carrier signs on.
In June, Houghton County Council rejected SkyWest’s request to reduce service at the airport. SkyWest had offered to move to one flight per day until it could be certified to fly aircraft with 30 seats or less.
SkyWest now offers two flights a day on a 50-seat regional jet.
The current contract with SkyWest expires on January 31. Even if SkyWest does not make a bid, the airport will still be serviced after that date, Hext said.
“Rumors are circulating in the city that SkyWest will leave on January 31”, said Hext. “It’s a rumor – they’re not leaving.”
If there are no bids, the Federal Department of Transportation will issue a blocking order on a month-to-month basis until a new carrier takes over.
The airport has been part of the EAS program since 2010, when former carrier Mesaba Airlines pulled out of the market. SkyWest has provided EAS service with flights from Houghton to Chicago since then.