Wednesday, February 22, 2012

SkyWest’s loss is not Sun Valley’s

Airline won’t cut flights to area

Express Staff Writer

A SkyWest plane docks at the arrival gates at the Friedman Memorial Airport in Hailey on Thursday. SkyWest, despite posting fourth-quarter losses, said it would not cut flights to Sun Valley. Photo by David N. Seelig

Large fourth-quarter losses for SkyWest won't affect the airline's flights at Sun Valley, airline staff said Monday.

The St. George, Utah,-based airline posted losses of $18 million in the fourth quarter of 2011, a loss of 35 cents per market share.

Kaye Morris, finance administrative assistant for SkyWest, said the loss was mainly due to SkyWest's recent acquisition of ExpressJet, a Houston-based airline that flies 206 regional jets under the Continental Express brand and 32 regional jets under the United Express brand.

SkyWest acquired the airline in 2010, after ExpressJet posted losses of $16.1 million in that year's first quarter, with losses only expected to increase.

Morris said this integration, and not any operational losses due to dropping demand, caused SkyWest's fourth-quarter losses. As a result, she said, the airline should not be dropping any flights or reducing flight frequency to any airports, including Friedman Memorial Airport in Hailey.

"There are no changes in service anticipated at this time," she said. "[The loss] is not related to our operations."

CEO Jerry Atkin said in a statement that the first part of 2012 is likely to be "challenged" as well. However, he said, he remains optimistic for the rest of the year.

"We have an action plan in place for 2012 that we have started to execute that is expected to return us to profitability for the year," he said in a statement.

SkyWest earned $37.2 million in the last quarter of 2010, but actually pulled in more revenue in 2011 than 2010—almost $900 million compared with just over $796.3 million.

Morris said she shares Atkin's optimisim.

"We're not expecting losses," she said. "I think it's going to work out by the end of next quarter."

Katherine Wutz:

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