Moab residents are putting their support behind a bid by Skywest Airlines to establish regular flights between Salt Lake City and the popular south eastern Utah community. A recent presentation for Essential Air Service, or EAS, included the current contractor, Denver-based Great Lakes Aviation as well as Skywest and Boutique Air. Bill Groff is Chair of the Grand County Airport Board. He says the interest in making a change is high.
“We had a lot of people, I mean a lot more than we usually do at a board meeting, mostly motel owners and people who are running tour operations, etc, etc, I guess, you know their primary business is tourism," says Groff. He says, "Their support for Skywest is unanimous.”
Groff says the Skywest bid was about a third higher in cost than Great Lake’s and that may be a factor. EAS is subsidized by the US Department of Transportation and Groff says the lowest bid doesn’t always win. He says flights to and from Salt Lake City are the biggest advantage with Skywest plus the fact that someone who lives as far away as Dubai could book a flight to Moab directly through Delta Airlines. Spokesperson with Skywest Wes Horrocks agrees it’s a good fit for one of the county’s largest regional airlines.
“and this is really our specialty, is being able to provide this kind of service in smaller and medium sized communities,” says Horrocks.
Skywest would provide 12 flights per week with a 30 seat capacity. Great Lakes Airlines offers 14 flights a week, but those aircraft seat only 19 passengers. The public comment period ends August 23. Horrocks says the EAS Chief with the DOT, Dennis Devany, is expected to make a decision within a couple of months.