Noem asks U.S. DOT to rebid Essential Air Service contracts for Watertown, Pierre

Watertown Regional Airport

May 13, 2021

PIERRE, SD – Governor Kristi Noem is urging U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg to reconsider his agency’s decision regarding Essential Air Service at the Pierre and Watertown airports. DOT awarded the two-year EAS contract to Denver Air Connection for both airports, contrary to the recommendation of Governor Noem, the full Congressional delegation, and both cities that SkyWest’s EAS contract be renewed.

In a statement, Noem said, “because of SkyWest’s quality service, traffic at Pierre and Watertown Regional Airports skyrocketed prior to the pandemic. After the Biden Administration announced an infrastructure package worth over $2.5 trillion, it seems inconsistent to reject SkyWest’s superior service. I strongly encourage you to rethink this decision and instruct your team to issue a re-bid.”

Governor Noem emphasized that the change in service would have a detrimental impact on tourism to these cities and the surrounding areas. Additionally, the loss of high-quality service would put jobs, small businesses, and economic growth at risk in both cities, which are vital economic centers for South Dakota.

Meanwhile, Key Lime Air, the parent company of Denver Air Connection, saw one of its planes involved in a mid-air collision in Englewood, Colorado Wednesday.

There were no deaths or injuries.

The Key Lime airplane was a Metroliner twin-engine propeller plane that was headed to Centennial Airport in Englewood. It collided with a Cirrus SR-22, which was headed to the same airport.

Flight controllers were bringing both planes in for landing on parallel runways when the collision occurred.

The FAA and NTSB are investigating.