SkyWest Inc., which owns SkyWest Airlines and ASA Airlines, operates the largest regional airline in the United States. From humble beginnings in rural Utah, to the cutting edge of the airline industry, SkyWest’s history is an American success story.
SkyWest Airlines was founded in 1972 by attorney Ralph Atkin to meet the needs of businessmen traveling between Salt Lake City and his hometown of St. George, Utah. During the first year of operations SkyWest flew only a 6-passenger Piper Senica, but 256 passengers flew on the fledgling airline that year. Struggling through the first few years of operation, SkyWest began steady expansion across the Western US.
In 1985 SkyWest Airlines signed a marketing agreement with Western Airlines to fly for them as Western Express out of their hub in Salt Lake City. In 1987, Delta Air Lines acquired Western. SkyWest then began a partnership with Delta as one of their Delta Connection carriers and today continues that partnership with more than 500 daily flights, operating primarily out of Delta’s hub in Salt Lake City.
During the Nineties, SkyWest also began its partnerships with Continental Airlines and United Airlines. SkyWest is now the primary United Express carrier along the West Coast, providing more than 1,200 daily departures and serving United hubs at Los Angeles, Portland, San Francisco, Chicago O’Hare and Denver.
SkyWest Airlines currently employs more than 11, 000 employees across 158 cities in 42 states, 5 Canadian Provinces and Mexico. SkyWest has over 1,600 flights per day as United Express, Delta Connection and Midwest Connect. They operate a fleet of 163 aircraft made up of the Bombardier CRJ200, CRJ700, and the CRJ900. They also fly 60 Embraer 120 Brasilia turboprops.
SkyWest Airlines was named the number one on-time mainland airline by the Department of Transportation in 2003, 2004 and 2005. It is notable that SkyWest earned those on-time awards in years in which they carried more than 40 million passengers combined.