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DOT delays SkyWest’s departure

October 08, 2008|By ERIC GALVAN, Staff Writer

The U.S. Department of Transportation is denying the request of SkyWest Airlines Inc. to pull its service from Imperial County Airport in 90 days, the county’s executive officer confirmed Wednesday.

The DOT has ordered SkyWest to maintain its service for an additional 30 days through Jan. 30, until a replacement can be found.

“It’s kind of what we expected,” Steve Birdsall, county airport director, said. “It’s nice to see it’s on their agenda and they’re requiring a response in such a short time.”

The DOT is requiring requests for proposals for air service be submitted by Oct. 30.

“SkyWest’s proposed termination of service at El Centro/Imperial would leave it with no scheduled air service, and, thus, the department must prohibit the carrier from terminating such service,” according to the official DOT decision.

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On Friday, the St. George, Utah-based SkyWest Airlines turned in its 90-day notice to the DOT announcing its plans to cut ties with Imperial County Airport.

DOT will now put out requests for proposals for other air carriers to provide service. Under the terms by the DOT an air-line would have to provide two roundtrips a day, six days a week. An airline would be subsidized by the DOT.

SkyWest has been providing services unsubsidized.

In May 2005 SkyWest gave notice to the DOT of its intention to pull its service. Five months later SkyWest withdrew its notice.

On Monday, Birdsall said the number of passengers SkyWest had been servicing has declined over the last year.

He said in 2007 SkyWest had 10,000 passengers use its service out of Imperial County Airport. As of September SkyWest had only seen 6,000 passengers utilize its service.

“Hopefully, this will alleve some concerns that we won’t have air service in Imperial County,” Imperial County Executive Officer Ralph Cordova said.

>> Staff Writer Eric Galvan can be reached at 337-3441 or at egalvan@ivpressonline.com

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