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SkyWest operates an average of more than 2,400 flights per day to 250 cities in the United States, Canada, Mexico with an extensive network of routes largely set up to connect passengers between smaller airports and the large hubs of its partner airlines. In total, SkyWest carried 35.9 million passengers in 2017.
Under various contracts, the company operates an average of 1,050 flights per day as Delta Connection on behalf of Delta Air Lines, 900 flights per day as United Express on behalf of United Airlines, 370 flights per day as American Eagle on behalf of American Airlines, and 160 flights per day as Alaska SkyWest in partnership with Alaska Airlines.
The vast majority of SkyWest's contracts are fixed-fee, with partner airlines paying a set amount for each flight operated, regardless of the number of passengers carried. The remaining 7% of flights are operated under a pro-rate contract, with SkyWest assuming all costs, setting fares, retaining all revenue from non-connecting passengers, and splitting the fares of connecting passengers on a pro-rated basis with the partner airline. SkyWest currently operates on a pro-rate basis on 68 routes across 10 hubs through agreements with American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and United Airlines.
In May 2011, SkyWest replaced six Horizon Air flights on the West Coast being operated for Alaska Airlines. The flights were based out of Seattle and Portland, and fly to several California cities including Fresno, Burbank, Santa Barbara and Ontario. Alaska Airlines has similar agreements with PenAir for Alaskan flights and Horizon Air for flights in the lower 48.
On September 6, 2017, SkyWest Airlines reported that it has entered into aircraft purchase agreements and capacity purchase agreements to acquire and fly 15 new aircraft with Delta Air Lines and 10 new aircraft with Alaska Airlines. Of the 25 aircraft, 15 Embraer E175 SC aircraft will fly under an agreement with Delta in a 70-seat configuration. The E175 SC aircraft has an E175 airframe and can be retrofitted to 76 seats in the future. The agreement with Alaska includes 10 Embraer E175s, which will be configured with 76 seats, similar to aircraft SkyWest has previously placed into service with Alaska. Expected delivery dates of the 25 aircraft run from March 2018 through the end of 2018.
On December 18, 2018, SkyWest, Inc. announced that it would sell ExpressJet Airlines to another airline holding company with ties to United Airlines, ExpressJet's sole client. The $70 million sale closed on January 23, 2019.
Embraer 175, owned and operated by SkyWest for Delta Connection, approaching LaGuardia Airport.
SkyWest has the largest fleet of any regional airline in the United States.
Like most regional airlines in the United States, SkyWest is subject to scope clause requirements of its mainline carrier partners and their pilot unions; those requirements limit the size of the aircraft flown by a regional airline, measured in seat capacity. This has created three subgroups of aircraft flown by SkyWest: aircraft with no more than 50 seats, no more than 70 seats and no more than 76 seats.
As of October 2020, the SkyWest Airlines fleet consists of the following aircraft, categorized by seating capacity:
As of the same date, the allocation of SkyWest Airlines aircraft in service to mainline carrier operations and to its own fleet was:
Bombardier A SkyWest CRJ200 at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. Most aircraft are painted in the livery of partner carriers, but SkyWest does have a small number of aircraft in its own livery that can be operated for any partner airline as needed.
Since 2015, the airline has exclusively operated jet aircraft.
In mid-2019 SkyWest signed a firm order for 7 Embraer E175 aircraft, in a 70-seat layout, to be operated for Delta Connection and with deliveries starting in the last quarter of 2019.
SkyWest previously operated Embraer EMB-120 turboprop aircraft until 2015. The airline also operated Fairchild Swearingen Metroliner turboprops (Metro II and Metro III models). In 1984, SkyWest was operating the largest Metro propjet fleet in the world with 26 aircraft, and by 1991 the Metro fleet had grown to 35 aircraft with 15 Brasilia propjets also being operated. By 1994, the first jet, a Bombardier CRJ-100, was added to the fleet and by 1996 all of the Metro propjets had been retired as they were progressively replaced with Brasilia aircraft..
According to the airline's website, at its inception SkyWest was operating all flights in the early 1970s with small propeller-driven, piston engine aircraft, including:
January 15, 1990: SkyWest Airlines Flight 5855, a Fairchild Metro collided with terrain during an instrument approach to Elko, Nevada. There were four serious and nine minor injuries.
February 1, 1991: SkyWest Airlines Flight 5569, a Fairchild Metro was awaiting departure clearance on an active runway at LAX for a scheduled flight to Palmdale, California when USAir Flight 1493, a Boeing 737-300 arriving from Columbus, Ohio collided with it while it was landing. Skywest 5569 was directed to position and hold on runway 24L at the intersection of taxiway 45. US1493 was cleared to land on 24L one minute later by the same local controller. One minute later, the 737 touched down, then landed on the SkyWest Metro, which was still holding in position 2,400 feet (730 m) from the runway threshold. The two planes slid down the runway, then off to the side, coming to rest against an unoccupied firehouse, and burst into flames. All 12 people on the Metro were killed (10 passengers and 2 pilots), and 22 of the 89 aboard the 737 perished (20 passengers, 1 pilot and 1 flight attendant). The cause was found to be air traffic controller error.
May 21, 1997: SkyWest Airlines Flight 5724, an Embraer EMB-120, N198SW, experienced a total loss of engine power to the right engine and associated engine fire, followed by a total loss of all airplane hydraulic systems, after takeoff from San Diego International Airport, San Diego, California. The airplane sustained substantial damage. The 2 pilots, 1 flight attendant, and 14 passengers were not injured. Skywest Airlines was operating the airplane as a scheduled domestic passenger flight under 14 CFR Part 121. The flight was destined for Los Angeles, California. It diverted to Miramar NAS, San Diego, where it landed at 14:27 local time. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time, and an IFR flight plan was filed.
January 13, 2008: A United AirlinesBoeing 757-200 jet with maintenance workers on board at San Francisco International Airport backed into SkyWest Airlines Flight 6398, a Bombardier CRJ-700 carrying 60 passengers and crew. The collision occurred at 7:30 p.m. as the 757 was being taken out of service and being moved without passengers from Gate 80 to a hangar for the night. The passengers on board the SkyWest plane were taken off the plane, which had left its gate and was waiting to depart to Boise, Idaho. Both planes suffered tail and engine damage, but no one on board either plane was injured.
September 7, 2008: SkyWest Airlines flight 6430, a Bombardier CRJ-700 operating as a United Express flight from Los Angeles, California ran off a runway after landing in San Antonio, Texas. An airport spokesman indicated that the aircraft appeared to be having mechanical difficulties, and resulted in the airport's primary runway being closed for two hours until the aircraft could be removed. No injuries were reported among the 52 passengers and 4 crew members on board.
July 17, 2012: An out-of-service SkyWest Bombardier CRJ-200 operating for Delta Connection was stolen by a SkyWest pilot on administrative leave, after murdering his girlfriend several days earlier, and substantially damaged at the St. George Regional Airport in St. George, Utah. The pilot started the engines and taxied the aircraft into a parking lot, striking the terminal and damaging several parked cars in the process. He would die from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. The aircraft was out of service and there were no other passengers or crew on board.
May 11, 2015: SkyWest Flight 5316, a Bombardier CRJ-200 operating as a United Express flight from Monterey, California to Los Angeles, California landed after its landing gear failed to fully deploy. The left wing scraped the ground on Runway 24 Left. All 40 passengers and three crew members safely deplaned and no injuries were reported.
December 4, 2016: SkyWest Airlines flight 5588, an Embraer E175 operating as a United Express flight from George Bush Intercontinental Airport to Monterrey, Mexico, was diverted to San Antonio International Airport after experiencing an abnormal landing gear indication. Upon landing, the nose gear of the aircraft collapsed, and the aircraft came to rest on runway 04. Of the 51 passengers and 4 crew members, only 1 minor injury was sustained during the evacuation. During recovery of the aircraft, it was discovered that a failed downlock spring on the nose gear had prevented the landing gear from locking in the down position.