SkyWest announces daily flights between Los Angeles and St. George

Photo courtesy of SkyWest Airlines, St. George News

ST. GEORGE – SkyWest Airlines announced Tuesday that new, daily flights between St. George and Los Angeles will begin in October.

Called United Express, the once-daily, round-trip flight is well timed for business and leisure travelers, providing connection opportunities in Los Angeles. The new route opens Oct. 6

We’re pleased to bring more service than ever to our St. George passengers,” Skywest Inc. President and CEO Chip Childs said. “With access to a fourth major airline hub at LAX, we’ve opened the West Coast and beyond for St. George travelers. In short, no matter which direction you’re headed, we’ve got you covered.”

SkyWest also offers connections to Salt Lake City, Denver and Phoenix.

SkyWest had offered flights to Los Angeles prior to 2013, but ended up dropping the route at the time in order to focus on service to Denver via United Airlines. The 50-seat Canadair Regional Jet will be used for the daily route.

From United Airline’s Los Angeles hub, travelers can access over 150 daily departures to 77 nonstop destinations around the world.

SkyWest will be using the 50-seat Canadair Regional Jet for the daily flights: departing St. George at 6:40 a.m. to Los Angeles; and departing Los Angeles around 7:30 p.m. to St. George.

We’re excited once again to see SkyWest offer another destination through the St. George Regional Airport,” St. George Mayor Jon Pike said. “This further expands the opportunities for residents and visitors to fly to four major hubs and three major airlines via SkyWest and St. George. We greatly appreciate the partnership between SkyWest Airlines, Washington County and St. George to make this possible.”

The Washington County Commission and St. George City Council approved an interlocal agreement putting $450,000 into the new route.

The funding will cover the first year of operations for the Los Angeles route and to help mitigate any possible loss to SkyWest. The agreement itself will last for 18 months or as long as subsidy funds last, whichever comes first.

The city of St. George did the same for the St. George-to-Phoenix route that started last fall.

The new route is added as travel outside of St. George Regional Airport continues to grow. The Transportation Security Administration reported a 21-percent increase in departing fliers out of St. George over the last three years.

St. George-based SkyWest Airlines Inc. was founded in 1972 and has become the world’s largest regional airline.

St. George News reporter Julie Applegate contributed to this article.

Email: mkessler@stgnews.com

Twitter: @MoriKessler

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.

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16 Comments

  • Bender July 26, 2017 at 2:58 am

    All aboard the non-revenue SkyWest employee get away express.

  • Not_So_Much July 26, 2017 at 8:11 am

    Why do taxpayers have to guarantee that a company won’t have any loss? Government should NOT pick winners and losers. A route to LA should pay for itself or not. Skywest should use their funds not the taxpayers to get the route going assuming there is a need for one. I drive to the LA area several times a year and will continue to do so. I have no plans to use this new offering (at my — and your’s– expense).
    It’s time to get engaged in what local cronies are doing with your money. Do you think this is starting in Oct just before the Huntsman World Senior Games is a coincidence? There are literally millions of local dollars being spent in what are very questionable manners for items you may not agree with. Attend meetings, stand up and say NO. Being a citizen in this country comes with a responsibility.

    • Pheo July 26, 2017 at 5:11 pm

      This isn’t about picking winners and losers. This is about making it possible for an airline to get past the startup costs of establishing such a route. If there are steady routes between multiple cities, it makes it much easier for business to be conducted in our city and ultimately for bigger companies to relocate to St George with their better paying jobs. This investment in our airport and in extra routes to utilize it could payoff big.

    • Average Joe July 30, 2017 at 3:32 pm

      I understand and agree with your premise of fiscal responsibility. However, in the case of the “new” St. George airport one might have to step back to an earlier time to exercise that responsibility. A couple of decades ago the St. George City fathers proclaimed to the town’s folk that a new airport was needed. It was stated that the necessity arose out of out of the location and runway of the current airport, among a few other reasons, was insufficient to support larger B737 and A320 type aircraft. Were the residents sold a bill of goods? Look at runway lengths at both KSNA (Orange County @ 5701’) along with KMDW (Chicago, Midway @ 6522’). You will find the runway length is shorter at both airports when compared to the “old” St. George airport at 6606’ in length. Those airports support B737 along with A320 aircraft daily. If one were to dig a little deeper into the issue at the time, one might find the 6606’ runway constraint might have been more an issue for the performance of the CRJ200 “jet” aircraft SkyWest uses rather than a limiting factor for B737 or A320 aircraft. The CRJ200, although a jet aircraft, is not known as one of the better performing aircraft in the industry. $170,000,000.00 could have been saved had the “old” airport received the security upgrades necessary to allow larger aircraft carrying more passengers to use the facility if that were really the main objective.

      It is my understanding that the “new” airport is still not self-sustaining as it receives subsidies from additionally levied taxes.

      Unfortunately for the St George airport, one of the lowest yield (read – ticket price) markets exists 120 miles South on interstate 15. With Frontier Airlines announcing a recent Las Vegas hub, the number is brought to three airlines which have adopted an ULLC (Ultra Low Cost Carrier) model. Las Vegas is currently the only airport in the nation that is a hub to all three of the ULLC carriers. Admittedly, the ULLC experience is not suited for all travelers; ticket pricing will remain attractive to those willing to make journey to McCarren and can adapt. A lid on ticket pricing is insured for many destinations. That will include several destinations currently served by means of the St. George airport.

      If you have a desire to see additional subsidies Google Cedar City along with “Essential Air service”.

      • An actual Independent July 31, 2017 at 6:46 pm

        I miss the old airport, as I learned to fly there and it was much more user friendly from a general aviation standpoint. It was great for learning to land because of the tricky winds and interesting thermals created at the site. And it was certainly a more convenient location to pop in for a typical, local area, scenic joyride flight.

        But it’s not really apples to apples to compare runway lengths and leave it at that. The runway at the old airport was 6601 x 75 (kind of narrow) and I believe the elevation was about 2960. With increased elevation comes decreased performance. High temperatures in the summer here decrease performance even more. And of course, there was the possibility of undershooting or overshooting the runway and dropping off or slamming into a cliff.

        KSNA is shorter at 5701, but twice as wide at 150 ft, and sits at an elevation of only 41 ft. KMDW has up to 6445 ft of runway, all 150 ft wide, and at an elevation of 619 ft. No cliffs to fall off at either location.

        That being said–I really do miss the old airport and in many ways, I’d prefer to have kept it. But you are correct that with a major hub a short distance away, St George and it’s relatively small population are not going to draw
        the numbers of passengers needed to support “major” airline operations.

        • Average Joe August 1, 2017 at 8:48 pm

          I am not sure that debating airport information will prove useful for this news story. My point being that the previous location served the St George area adequately at the time. Had it been left untouched and if it were still functional, it would have done so for the foreseeable future, thermals and all. I suppose my original concern along with that of @Not_So_Much centers on the realized benefits versus the initial costs and continued subsidies required to operate the new airport.

          If my memory serves me correctly, the old airport had roughly 7 daily flights to SLC along with one daily flight to LAX about the time it was shuttered. Both cities served by SkyWest in 30 passenger EMB120 aircraft. Those flights created 240 available seats. Now, $170,000,000.00 dollars and 6 years later, we have 4 daily flights to SLC along with 2 daily flights to both Denver and Phoenix. The added flight to Los Angeles brings the total daily departures to 9, certainly within the capabilities of the more economical, old airport.

          You mentioned the performance degradation that occurs with increased altitude and temperature. While those are factors to consider for take-off and landing performance, so are increased humidity and runway contamination. Humidity and snow are not much of a factor for St. George yet they are at the other two examples in the order you mentioned. Maybe we can agree to call that one a push 🙂

          Additionally, the dated information that I have in my paws indicates the old airport had a runway width of at least 100’ which is inside the minimum safe requirements for narrow body B737 A320 along with CRJ equipment. The 100′ width does pose autoland restrictions, however, the new airport is also not autoland capable. The increase from the original 6606’ length to a new runway 9300’ long has allowed SkyWest to continue to serve the city with the aircraft on hand. Again the performance of the CRJ200 appears to be the weak link as the B737 A320 can carry more weight further for a given take-off length in most cases. With a relatively full airplane it will perform the operation at an economic advantage when compared to the regional jet at similar stage lengths. The cost benefit compounds as the cost of fuel rises benefiting the larger aircraft by a substantial margin.

          Moot point if a cliff – the old airport, or gas stations/restaurants – Chicago Midway, or freeway – Orange County, exists just beyond a required runway safety margin. None of the situations are ideal, yet they are all FAA approved and functional. At least in the case of the last two examples as, of course, the old airport is no more.

          The point of my continued rambling is the old airport could have easily supported the current traffic if it were left unchanged. With relatively inexpensive upgrades it could have handled all of the B737 A320 operators willing to set up shop there for the foreseeable future.

          Although I don’t want to take anything away from those involved in the construction of the new airport as it is a nice facility. Fact is Las Vegas was back then, and will remain, one of the lowest cost originating destinations in the nation. The recent hub announcement by a third ULLC further insures a lid on pricing along with profitable destinations out of SGU. It appears that the ULCC’s are demonstrating that ticket pricing takes precedence over many traditional airline amenities in a wave that appears to be gaining national momentum. For entertainment I searched a round trip ticket to ATL out of SGU and LAS at a week out, returning 4 days later. SGU was $394.00 while LAS was $177.00. The ULCC were comparable and substantially under the connecting flight out of SGU. Orlando using the same criteria = $544.00 connecting out of SGU and $240.00 out of LAS. $1,200.00 for a two hour drive to LAS buys lots of mouse ears for a family of four.

          Rather than attempting to create demand that will be hard to justify without subsidies, maybe the fiscally responsible course of action includes a towel for the new airport. Reopen the old airport and use the new airport subsidies to provide cheap hourly flights to Las Vegas in right sized equipment.

          What is going to happen to the additional SGU flights when the cost of a barrel of oil rises back above $80.00?

          Was the new airport fiscally responsible? Was it necessary?

  • DRT July 26, 2017 at 9:34 am

    I’m not so sure this is such a bad idea. My first inclination was to agree with the above post. However, upon reflection, I can see where it might pay off in the long run, by bringing increased revenue to local hospitality business, there by more tax money to both city and county.

  • DRT July 26, 2017 at 9:35 am

    Almost forgot, in the above article, somebody needs to learn how to spell Phoenix! 😉

    • Paul Dail Paul Dail July 26, 2017 at 10:05 am

      DRT, thanks for bringing that to our attention. Looks like it was right the first time and has since been remedied on the second instance. I won’t speak for all of our editors, but I know that even after several years of editing, I still have a handful of simple words that I have to think about how to spell. “Phoenix” is one of them 🙂

      Thanks again for being an active (and observant) reader of St. George News.

      Paul Dail
      ST. GEORGE NEWS
      Editor, Reporter

  • Caveat_Emptor July 26, 2017 at 2:37 pm

    Let’s give this a chance.
    The SG airport facility is underutilized, so encouraging additional flights makes sense. We just hope that someone is assessing the return on the “investment” by SG City.
    Delta and United price their connections to SLC and Denver at a significant premium. The recent American connection to Phoenix is only cost effective if you can book well in advance. Let’s see what the LAX connection will cost.
    Seat pricing is so complex that hard and fast rules are hard to formulate. It is a true case by case calculation.
    Driving, or Shuttling to LV is an inconvenience, but has been the most cost effective option in about 50% of our trips.

  • youcandoit July 26, 2017 at 4:38 pm

    I’ll always drive to vegas for my flights. I save 300.00 by doing so.

  • Dolly July 26, 2017 at 5:12 pm

    Hi Paul. As long as we are doing spelling corrections – look at this paragraph:
    “SkyWest had offered flights to Los Angeles prior to 2013, but ended up dropping the route at the time in order to focus on service to Denver via Untied Airlines. The 50-seat Canadair Regional Jet will be used for the daily route.”
    It should be United Airlines, not Untied Airlines. 🙂

    • Joyce Kuzmanic Joyce Kuzmanic July 26, 2017 at 5:28 pm

      Yes it should, Dolly. It shall be done.

      ST. GEORGE NEWS
      Joyce Kuzmanic
      Editor in Chief

  • comments July 26, 2017 at 5:45 pm

    The question is: will skywest ever be more than a smaller scale “boutique” airline? And how long will our taxes be welfaring them along? I’m no fan of corporate welfare.

    • An actual Independent July 29, 2017 at 7:39 am

      Why should they? They are probably THE premier connector/commuter airline. Based in St George and built to serve similar communities by connecting them to the major hub airports. Economies of scale dictate that will not be changing anytime soon. With such a busy hub just down I-15, St George will never be a place to get lots of cheap airline seats.
      Nobody is going to bringing jumbo jets requiring 300,000 pounds of jet fuel to St George. The actual costs are insane….they’d have to fill the plane to capacity with $500 one way tickets just to cover fuel costs. Not going to happen with a bunch of “fixed income” seniors who want a $99 ticket to go see the grandkids.
      SkyWest leaders have stated many times that they are happy to provide all the service and all the seats that St George flyers are willing TO PAY FOR.

  • knobe July 27, 2017 at 7:50 am

    This is Not really a ‘new’ route as it existed when I came here .
    It was the only direct route to the west coast to catch a flight across the Pacific .
    Later it was dropped & we were forced to travel through SLC making it difficult to catch same day connections .

    The reason it is probably Not profitable is that for those just traveling to So Cal , driving is a better option .
    If they wanted a More profitable route , they would fly SFO which is a much longer drive so
    Both travelers needing and overseas connection And those wanting to do California visits would use the route .

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