Snow, based in St. George, Utah, said SkyWest would prefer to maintain the Delta connection in Cody, but it is no longer feasible for the airline, which has been flying out of Yellowstone Regional for 25 years.
Airport Manager Bob Hooper called the news unexpected, saying SkyWest gave no advance notice of its intentions.
SkyWest informed him of the decision June 24, Hooper said.
They made a formal announcement Tuesday, said Hank Coe, Wyoming senator and Cody Yellowstone Air Improvement Resources chairman. CYAIR’s sole objective is keeping commercial air service in Cody.
“I’m kind of perplexed,” said Bucky Hall, Park County Commission chair and county liaison to the Yellowstone Regional Airport Joint Powers Board and CYAIR. “This is way out of the blue.”
During the winter, United Airlines, making runs to Denver, receives Air Service Enhancement grants obtained through CYAIR from the Wyoming Department of Transportation State Aeronautics Division and local contributions, Coe said.
These subsidies are employed at airports across the state to retain commercial airlines.
Hall said he does not believe SkyWest requested a subsidy for flights it makes for Delta Airlines out of Cody.
In the last three years, CYAIR had two air enhancement grant contracts with SkyWest, one of them independently and the other under Delta Airlines, which contracts with SkyWest to fly for that airline, Coe said.
Both airlines fly at risk in the summer because flights are full, Coe said.
Both Delta and United flights out of Cody are flown by SkyWest.
“Every airplane that flies into Cody is manned by a SkyWest crew,” Coe said.
Since May 2011, SkyWest has seen a nearly 17 percent increase in the number of passengers boarding planes to Salt Lake City over 2010 numbers, according to Yellowstone Regional statistics.
Combining both airlines, Yellowstone Regional had nearly 8 percent more passengers boarding in May this year than May 2010, according to airport statistics.
“They said they are losing money in this market,” Hooper said.
Hooper, a member of CYAIR, said the organization is exploring other Salt Lake City connection options.
SkyWest will make its last flight at midday on Sept. 6, but if it is feasible, the airline could return to Cody in the future.
“We’re always evaluating viable markets,” Snow said.
Hall said it is possible SkyWest could be convinced to return to Cody, but it will take enhancement grants to do it.
Coe said there are no other airlines that will make the Salt Lake City run.
“We have to prepare to assume that SkyWest will pull out of the Cody to Salt Lake City market Sept. 6,” Coe said.
Hall said he believes Yellowstone Regional is unique because few small airports across the country offer connections to two major airports.
SkyWest holds the contract to manage ticket sales for United as well as ground operations, such as aircraft maintenance and luggage loading, and has said it intends to continue those operations, Hooper said.