SkyWest canceling flights at airports

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — Four Kansas airports are learning that their air carrier plans to end service: Salina, Liberal, Dodge City, and Hays. This comes after SkyWest filed a notice with the US Department of Transportation (USDOT) to end essential air services.

According to the airport in Salina, air service is required to continue because all four airports are part of the federal essential air service program. The service could be extended if a new airline doesn’t continue.

A SkyWest representative said issues with pilot staffing led to their plan to end services. It’s a problem local airport managers were already seeing.

“For April, they have tagged up on with Dodge City and Liberal [to] have connecting flights to Denver, so they will stop Liberal [then] come to Dodge, or they will go to Dodge, [and] stop in Liberal on the way,” said Kelli Enlow, the manager of Dodge City Airport.

The effects of the pilot shortage being felt in Kansas.

“We saw something was going on, but I don’t know if we expected something this big to happen,” said Enlow.

“The abruptness of the announcement was surprising, but the issue of the pilot shortage is definitely not surprising. It is something the industry has been facing and has known about for probably the last 10 years,” said Dr. Alysia Starkey, the CEO and Dean of Kansas State University (K-State) Aerospace and Technology.

The dean of K-State’s Aerospace and Technology program said as the pilot shortage approaches a crisis in the next 10 years, we will likely see more airlines have issues. Training and fuel costs are also becoming a challenge for future pilots.

“I think across the industry for all flight training providers, we need to do everything we can and get as much support as we can to make sure that flight training remains affordable and accessible to individuals who want to enter into that career,” said Dr . starkey.

dr. Starkey said the solution must involve federal regulation and funding.

“This is probably the first indication that it is getting to a national level where it is going to get some attention in some different ways, so we are just kinda waiting to hear what they are looking at to try to solve this issue,” said dr. starkey.

K-State has about 700 students learning to become pilots. The dean said the university has been working to grow class enrollment each year. Their freshman class this year has 140 students.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.