NEW: Watertown temporarily loses air service to Chicago due to financial losses from COVID-19  (Audio)

May 6, 2020
Mike Tanner

WATERTOWN, S.D.—It’s being called the worst crisis in the history of commercial aviation in this country’s history.

The COVID-19 pandemic, combined with stay-at-home orders being issued around the country, are gutting the industry.

KWAT News has learned that effective yesterday (Tuesday), Skywest Airlines operating as United Express, pulled the plug on its daily service from Watertown to Chicago O’Hare.

They were allowed to modify their Essential Air Service contract after requesting relief from the Federal Department of Transportation.

Airport Manager Todd Syhre says it’s a temporary move, as the airline tries to cut its losses….

One round trip daily to Denver, but nothing to Chicago until July at the earliest.

Syhre says for the airlines, it’s not about flying right now. It’s about getting planes parked….

The drop in passenger traffic in Watertown since early March has been staggering.

Syhre says business is down 95-percent….

Through June 30th, the only commercial flight in and out of Watertown is via Denver, with a 9:45 a.m. departure, and a 9:50 p.m. arrival.