Marion – Representatives from SkyWest Airlines were in Marion Thursday afternoon where they presented their air service proposal for service to Chicago O’Hare from Veterans Airport of Southern Illinois to the Airport Board and those interested in SkyWest and what it’s offering for travelers in our area. According to Barry Wright from WQRL Dan Belmont, manager of network planning for SkyWest, shared several reasons why SkyWest would be a good fit for Marion. He mentioned things like they fly under the United brand operating their planes as United Express, they have 50 seat jets compared to current provider Cape Air’s nine seat props, they offer 2500 daily departures to 245 cities and locally, they’re known to recruit pilots and mechanics from SIU in Carbondale. Currently Cape Air provides flights from Marion to St. Louis, but SkyWest wants to offer flights from Marion to Chicago. When asked why SkyWest would not fly into St. Louis, Belmont said it’s hard to understand that with their relationship with their partner United, they are connecting people with their hub.
Airport officials say five airlines are all looking to provide air service in Marion with SkyWest and current provider Cape Air currently getting the most attention. You can find out more and vote for the airline service of your choice on the airport’s website at veteransairport.com until July 22. Airport Director Douglas Kimmel says the airport has until Friday, Aug. 9 to submit its recommendation to the U.S. Department of Transportation. Kimmel says not only will the airport make its recommendation but will pass along the public’s recommendation too. It will be up to the Department of Transportation officials as to who will provide essential air service for Marion. If SkyWest is chosen for this service, it will begin operations Dec. 1 and provide two daily flights weekdays and one flight on the weekends. A one-way ticket will cost $79 with a round-trip ticket costing $158. The average flight time will be about 1 hour and 25 minutes, but flight time will vary depending on weather conditions. Cape Air is set to make its presentation Tuesday at the airport.