In airline industry’s rocky times, Watertown fortunate to be served by Denver Air Connection

March 11, 2022
Mike Tanner

WATERTOWN, S.D.–Watertown officials expressed disappointment a year ago when Denver Air Connection was awarded the Essential Air Service contract over a competing offer from SkyWest Airlines.

At the time, their disappointment was understandable. SkyWest, flying under the United Express banner, had a much larger route system and more planes than the regional carrier Denver Air.

Watertown city officials, and Governor Kristi Noem, went so far as to ask the U.S. Department of Transportation to re-bid the contract.

Looking back now, it was a blessing Denver Air was the choice, and that the U.S. DOT refused to re-bid Watertown’s service.

That’s because SkyWest is dealing with a pilot shortage that’s causing them to bail out of markets right and left.

They ended operations in Watertown and Pierre on January 3rd, and yesterday, they announced they’re terminating service in 29 more cities. Among them are three in Iowa (Sioux City, Mason City and Fort Dodge), and two in North Dakota (Jamestown and Devils Lake).

Meanwhile, Denver Air continues to serve Watertown with consistent, reliable service to Denver and Chicago O’Hare on 50-seat regional jets (pictured) , and they recently announced a ticketing and baggage agreement with American Airlines.

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