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SkyWest Airlines appeals decision changing service providers in Watertown, Pierre airports

 Courtesy Dakota Radio Group
Courtesy Dakota Radio Group (KSFY)
Published: May. 3, 2021 at 3:25 PM CDT
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WATERTOWN, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - In a rare move, SkyWest Airlines is appealing the U.S. Department of Transportation’s decision to award Denver Air Connection a federal contract to serve airports in Watertown and Pierre beginning July 1.

In a letter to the U.S. DOT dated April 28, SkyWest Market Development Director Greg Atkin writes that the selection was a, “puzzling move” as Denver Air Connection’s proposal did not meet several of DOT’s five mandatory selection criteria.

Atkin writes that SkyWest has “rarely appealed” the DOT’s selection of a carrier to serve cities under the Essential Air Service program.

In this case, Atkin says the selection of Denver Air Connection “would leave Watertown and Pierre with 31,200 fewer seats annually, remove the United Airlines codeshare, replace it with a mere interline baggage transfer agreement, and provide less connective schedules at higher fares.”

Atkin says with this selection, “Watertown and Pierre are no longer positioned to fully recover from the impacts of their air service caused by COVID-19.”

KWAT-Radio reports Watertown Airport Manager Todd Syhre declined comment.

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