Denver Air Connection reflect on their 1st month in Watertown & Pierre

PIERRE, S.D.(DRGNews)- The first three weeks have gone well for the new Essential Air Service contract holder for the Pierre and Watertown regional airports.

Jon Coleman is the Director of Business Development for Denver Air Connection, the company that now receives a federal subsidy to provide commercial air service to both airports. He says staff got things up and running quickly.

Coleman says passenger numbers have been good considering the short time Denver Air has been selling tickets.

After having years of unreliable service at Pierre and Watertown– most recently with California Pacific– Coleman says he understands why people are cautious about flying with a regional company rather than a major airline company.

SkyWest, flying as United Express, took over the EAS contracts for Pierre and Watertown in April 2019 after California Pacific abruptly ended flights at both airports. In April of this year, the US DOT awarded Denver Air Connection the federally subsidized contracts.

Earlier this week (July 19, 2021), South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem spoke with SkyWest President and CEO Chip Childs via phone saying she “will continue urging the US Department of Transportation to re-bid these routes and hope that SkyWest will be recognized for the excellent service that they provide.”

Noem said since former EAS provider SkyWest’s contract ended July 1, 2021, SkyWest has outperformed Denver Air Connection in enplanements at both the Pierre and Watertown airports. DRG Media Group has reached out to both companies asking for specific passenger numbers so far, but has not yet received that information from either company.