Jan 07, 2021

🎥 City to recommend air service contract continue with SkyWest

Posted Jan 07, 2021 11:55 AM
Hays Regional Airport (Photos courtesy city of Hays)
Hays Regional Airport (Photos courtesy city of Hays)

EDITOR'S NOTE: This story was corrected at 8:12 p.m. Jan. 7 to reflect the number of seats in the jet flown by SkyWest at the Hays airport. There are 50 passenger seats, not 15. Hays Post apologizes for the error.

Hays Post

The city of Hays received just one bid for provision of flight service at the airport from July 2021 through July 2024.

The bid comes from the current carrier — SkyWest Airlines — working under a three-year federal contract that expires July 31, 2021.

Commercial air service is provided at the Hays Regional Airport as part of the Essential Air Service program administered by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Although Hays usually receives more than one bid, City Manager Toby Dougherty is not concerned about the single bid.

"We're usually pretty competitive and have more than one carrier bid on our services, but it was a competitive bid from a price standpoint and we're very happy with the service SkyWest provides here," Dougherty said.

City commissioners will review a recommendation letter for SkyWest from the city during their Thursday work session. 

"The costs are borne by the Department of Transportation," Dougherty explained. "There's no cost locally to this."

The contract is between SkyWest and USDOT, which solicits community input on the selection of a carrier.  The letter from city commissioners fulfills the community support request.

Carriers don't bid a flight schedule for a route; they bid flights per week.

The current EAS contract for Hays is 12 flights a week to and from Denver.

Dougherty says SkyWest proposed the same number of Denver flights in its recent bid.

A daily 8:30 a.m. flight was just added to the Hays schedule Wednesday and Dougherty expects the schedule to remain the same "for the foreseeable future but if SkyWest wants to make modifications under the new contract they would have to the ability [to do so]."

SkyWest flies a CRJ 200 50-passenger jet for the Hays/Denver route. The plane overnights in Hays.

United Airlines sets the fare charged to passengers flying on SkyWest planes, according to Dougherty.

"SkyWest has a rate that they recover per passenger from United and through the DOT. But the ultimate fare is set by a United algorithm.

"That's why the fares change daily and sometimes it's expensive to go to Las Vegas or Chicago and sometimes it's cheap," Dougherty smiled. "That's all done by a United algorithm."