South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem has written U-S Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, asking him to reconsider his agency’s decision on Essential Air Service subsidy contracts for Pierre and Watertown.
The DOT awarded the 2-year EAS contracts for both cities to Denver Air Connection even though both cities, Noem, and the full South Dakota Congressional delegation wanted to keep the current EAS carrier, SkyWest.
Noem wrote that traffic in Pierre and Watertown had skyrocketed prior to the pandemic because of SkyWest’s quality service and that changing carriers would have a detrimental impact to the 2 cities and their surrounding areas.
She also wrote losing the “high-quality service” provided by SkyWest would put jobs, small businesses, and economic growth at risk in both Pierre and Watertown, which she called “vital economic centers for South Dakota.”
Both airlines serve the Nebraska Panhandle. SkyWest has the EAS contract for the Scottsbluff-Denver route while the Denver Air Connection, whose parent is Key Lime Air, has the Alliance-Denver contract.
Key Lime was in the news yesterday when one of its small cargo planes collided with an even small private plane over the Denver area.
The Key Lime Metroliner Jet with only the pilot aboard landed safely at the Centennial Airport while the other plane, a Cirrus SR-22, used an emergency parachute system that brought it down to the ground with no additional damage.
The Cirrus had just taken off from Centennial and its pilot apparently didn’t fully follow the instructions of an Air Traffic Controller.