POCATELLO — SkyWest Airlines plans to cut a pair of daily flights from the Pocatello Regional Airport’s schedule, which will leave the city with a single daily departure to Salt Lake City at 1:15 p.m.
Airport Manager Alan Evans said the new schedule will take effect on Nov. 2. He said the airline is looking to cut costs during its slower winter months, and he is optimistic that SkyWest will restore one or both of the flights next spring.
The remaining daily flight will arrive at the airport at 12:33 p.m., Evans said.
SkyWest is a regional airline based in St. George, Utah. It contracts its services with major airlines including Delta, United, American and Alaska.
SkyWest offers connector flights serving Pocatello for Delta Airlines. Pocatello is one of 13 locations that SkyWest serves on an at-risk basis, meaning it derives profits or sustains losses based on flight occupancy, Evans said. SkyWest reduced all of its at-risk airports, also including Twin Falls, to a single daily flight, Evans said.
At Idaho Falls Regional Airport, where Delta pays a set rate to SkyWest that doesn’t vary by occupancy, no flights were cut, Evans said.
Evans said his airport has been running at about 50 percent full on its flights for several months. He emphasized that the airport has no authority over setting schedules.
“It’s a little discouraging but it is something that is needed on their side to keep them viable,” Evans said.
The airline had already implemented a schedule change for the month of October, maintaining three flights on some days and cutting back to two flights on other days.
Evans said the airport sought to negotiate to retain two flights but to no avail. He’s continuing discussions with SkyWest.
“What they told us they’re doing is through the winter months reduce their frequency and hope to pick it back up in the spring, when business picks up,” Evans said.
Evans also plans to have discussions about adding a flight with another carrier.
Around Christmas, SkyWest will temporarily add additional flights serving Pocatello to accommodate holiday travel, Evans said.
Evans said business travel hasn’t fully recovered since the start of the pandemic. He believes business travelers will be the most inconvenienced by the reduced flight offerings.
“I see this as a real short-term situation,” Evans said. “… The more we use the airport the quicker our service will recover. We’ve got to show we need those (cut flights).”