No Word On Whether Boutique Airlines Will Reduce Chadron Service During Pandemic

CHADRON – SkyWest Airlines, which flies as United Express, is cutting its Scottbluff-Denver schedule from 2 flights a day to just one, taking advantage of new Essential Air Service rules allowing subsidized carriers to reduce flights during the coronavirus pandemic.

Passenger numbers have dwindled nationwide during the coronavirus pandemic, leading the federal Dept of Transportation last week to allow airlines to cut their EAS service to as little as 1 round trip per day and still receive half of their contract per-flight subsidy for the dropped flights.

Western Nebraska Regional Airport Manager Raul Aguallo told KNEB News he considers the new schedule of a morning flight to Denver and a return flight at night to be something of a victory because the DOT had allowed SkyWest to cut service to just 6 days a week.

The United Express flight to Denver will depart at 9:17 am, later than in the past because the airline will no longer overnight a plane in Scottsbluff. Instead, Scottsbluff is now the midpoint of a flight to Pierre, SD, with the evening flight arriving at 7:14 continuing on to overnight in Pierre.

In Chadron, City Manager Greg Yanker contacted Boutique Airlines, Chadron’s EAS carrier, last Thursday about whether it plans to reduce its twice daily service to Denver and was told the airline is still considering its options.

The DOT authorization to reduce service is effective through the end of June and applies to all 160 communities in the United States and Puerto Rico receiving EAS subsidized service, but not the 8 cities receiving Alternate EAS grants.

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