Don't know if any of you guys are aware or not, but Skywest has been having a hell of a time in here recently...some software glitch in the CRJ 700 is causing flight after flight to be cancelled, we are talking sunny, windless days. Lots of pissed off rich tourists and many locals lamenting the loss of the BAEs. Anyway, looks like they did some work, press release came out today. Posted below (with a quick note from the chamber resort association):
Attached is a press release I have been asked to help circulate on behalf of SkyWest Airlines. It’s obvious to all that their reputation has taken some what of a beating here locally over the past two months as they have been forced to deal with some extraordinary challenges dealt by Mother Nature. The only other comments I would like to add is to remind everyone of how fortunate we are to have the largest independently owned regional carrier in the country whose mission statement is “Safety First” as our primary operator not only for United Express but now Delta Connection, as well. SkyWest Airlines was named the #1 On-Time Mainland Airline in the United States by the Department of Transportation for 2003, 2004 and 2005.
In April 2006, they started serving Aspen. This, combined with last month’s blizzard in Denver, could bring an end to this on-time streak. But it hasn’t undermined their unwavering commitment to safety in the slightest.
We are also fortunate that SkyWest Airlines remains so committed to Aspen, despite the fact they operate over 1,600 flights daily and carry more than 40 million passengers every year. The fact that it took them less than ten days after receiving FAA approval to update more than 80% of their entire fleet of CRJ-700 aircraft for the sole purpose of improving their reliability at Aspen is a tremendous illustration of that commitment. On behalf of everyone who worked really hard on this project of providing continued commercial jet service into Aspen beyond last year’s final flight of the BAE-146, your continued patience, appreciation and support of SkyWest’s efforts here and their commitment to our community is greatly appreciated.
St. George, UT, January 30, 2007 – SkyWest Airlines, a subsidiary of SkyWest Inc. (NASDAQ: SKYW), and the nation’s largest independently owned regional carrier, is pleased to announce that as of Tuesday, January 30, 2007, 51 of SkyWest’s 62 CRJ700 aircraft have been updated to allow flights into Aspen when barometric pressure is at abnormally low levels. This represents more than 80 percent of the CRJ700 fleet being upgraded since SkyWest first received approval from the FAA on the evening of Thursday, January 18.
The software change makes it possible for pilots to take precautionary measures in the event of irregular barometric conditions, and should mitigate problems associated with those conditions. Safety continues to be SkyWest’s first priority, and this FAA approval allows SkyWest to increase reliability for the Aspen community.
“We know this situation has been especially frustrating for the passengers who have been inconvenienced and had travel plans disrupted,” said Steve Black, SkyWest director – stations. “Our customer service personnel worked to identify all available options for affected passengers, including rebooking or refunding tickets and arranging ground transportation options when appropriate. But we know what passengers really want is a solution to the problem – and from all reports we’re receiving, we’re well on our way.”
“We anticipate the entire CRJ700 fleet modifications to be completed by next week,” explained Captain Dave Faddis, SkyWest Airlines director –
flight training/standards. “These upgrades in the software require
approximately five man-hours per plane, and our maintenance personnel at Salt Lake City, Colorado Springs and Chicago have been doing everything they can to get these aircraft modified and back into our system as soon as possible.”
Aspen’s abnormal barometric pressure is a rare occurrence, but is
heightened by the city’s high altitude at more than 7,800 feet – among the highest of U.S. commercial airline destinations. In normal operating conditions, SkyWest’s CRJ700 service has been comparable or superior to other aircraft flying into Aspen. But this winter’s unusual weather patterns have placed significant challenges on SkyWest’s operation that has historically had some of the best reliability in the country. (The airline
was named the #1 mainland on-time airline by the Department of
Transportation in 2003, 2004 and 2005.)
Bill Tomcich, president of central reservations agency, Stay Aspen
Snowmass, believes that, despite the recent barometric pressure challenges SkyWest faced in Aspen, overall jet service has improved significantly since the introduction of SkyWest Airlines and the CRJ700s this past April.
“Because of SkyWest’s commitment to Aspen, we now have new nonstop flights from Chicago, San Francisco and Salt Lake City,” Tomcich explained, “along with expanded nonstop service from Los Angeles in a modern jet aircraft that not only offers greatly improved passenger comfort, but is also a lot faster, quieter, more fuel efficient and environmentally friendly than any aircraft that has ever served Aspen/Snowmass in the past.”
SkyWest’s recent completion rate in Aspen has not been consistent with the airline’s overall performance. While SkyWest’s Delta Connection operation in Aspen realized the airport’s best reliability during December with just six cancelled flights and an overall completion rate of 90.3%, the SkyWest United Express operation realized some extraordinary challenges this past month. A total of 69 SkyWest operated United Express flights were cancelled in December for an overall completion rate of just 77.7%. While the majority of those flight cancellations in December were directly related to the Denver blizzard, those challenges were compounded by barometric pressure issues, which resulted in the temporary suspension of Aspen operations on a total of four separate occasions since December 28.
“While December’s numbers are not typical for SkyWest,” said Faddis, “we have every reason to believe that with this change, our operation will return to the level of reliability passengers should expect, and saw last week.” From January 21 through January 28, SkyWest was at a 96% completion rate. “We know it will take time to regain passenger confidence from the Aspen community, but we’re committed to a safe and reliable operation for Aspen. We will continue to push forward until all of the aircraft are updated.”