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SkyWest Airlines stopping future service from Barkley Regional Airport

Barkley Regional Airport

An airline is stopping future service from Barkley Regional Airport in McCracken County and from more than two dozen other regional airports, citing pilot shortages.

Utah-based SkyWest Airlines currently offers two daily flights from Barkley Regional Airport to Chicago, branded as “United Express” as a part of the route network associated with United Airlines. SkyWest Airlines issued a 90-day notice Thursday saying it was discontinuing its service to Barkley Regional Regional Airport, Cape Girardeau Airport in Missouri and 27 other regional airports across the country.

Barkley Regional Airport Executive Director Dennis Rouleau during a Thursday meeting said the airport would aggressively pursue new airlines to offer service from Paducah, with airport leadership planning to attend an industry conference this summer to talk with other airlines.

“We’re going to hunt for every opportunity. I’m going to ask the [airport] board to come along and maybe visit airlines in person to ensure we have continued service,” Rouleau said.

SkyWest Airlines offers service to rural airports such as Barkley Regional Airport through contracts with the Essential Air Service program, a U.S. Department of Transportation initiative that guarantees smaller, rural communities are still serviced by certified air carriers. The program pays subsidies to airlines that offer such service to smaller airports. SkyWest Airlines had an EAS contract to offer service from Paducah until January 31, 2023.

Rouleau said he expects SkyWest Airlines to offer service potentially even beyond the 90-day notice period, though the public will be notified how flight service changes in the coming months. He said he expects to work with federal officials and SkyWest Airlines on a smooth transition forward and that he recently contacted four airlines “to have a dialogue.”

“I doubt very seriously come 90 days that everything’s gonna stop,” Rouleau said. “I don’t foresee that.”

"Liam Niemeyer is a reporter for the Ohio Valley Resource covering agriculture and infrastructure in Ohio, Kentucky and West Virginia and also serves Assistant News Director at WKMS. He has reported for public radio stations across the country from Appalachia to Alaska, most recently as a reporter for WOUB Public Media in Athens, Ohio. He is a recent alumnus of Ohio University and enjoys playing tenor saxophone in various jazz groups."
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