EXCLUSIVE: SkyWest Airlines asks U.S. DOT to re-bid Watertown air service contract

Mike Tanner/KWAT

May 3, 2021
Mike Tanner

WATERTOWN, S.D.–In a rare move, SkyWest Airlines is appealing the U.S. Department of Transportation’s decision to award Denver Air Connection a federal contract to serve airports in Watertown and Pierre beginning July 1st.

In a letter to the U.S. DOT dated April 28th, SkyWest Market Development Director Greg Atkin writes that the selection was a, “puzzling move” as Denver Air Connection’s proposal, “did not meet several of DOT’s five mandatory selection criteria.”

Atkin writes that SkyWest has, “rarely appealed” the DOT’s selection of a carrier to serve cities under the Essential Air Service program.

In this case, Atkin says the selection of Denver Air Connection, “would leave Watertown and Pierre with 31,200 fewer seats annually, remove the United Airlines codeshare, replace it with a mere interline baggage transfer agreement, and provide less connective schedules at higher fares.”

Atkin says with this selection, “Watertown and Pierre are no longer positioned to fully recover from the impacts of their air service caused by COVID-19.”

Atkins, in closing, says, “SkyWest believes it is in the best interest of Watertown and Pierre for the DOT to issue a re-bid.”

Watertown Airport Manager Todd Syhre declined comment.

Read the full text of Atkins’ letter by clicking here: