Just the first month of service is out (November 2017):
UA took over the EAS subsidies so loads don't matter as much. Those ORD numbers actually aren't too bad all things considered.
(Thanks for the numbers, cvgComair.)
Those look pretty abysmal, but I agree that EAS routes are probably low across the board (but that low?). If I remember correctly, there's also a CRJ maintenance base there... so I guess that makes the numbers a little more bearable, too.
This actually isn't horrible -- a couple of reasons why:
1. Skywest's EAS big for Clarksburg expected a 42% load factor. https://www.regulations.gov/document?D= ... 20736-0149
2. This is only the first month. It takes time for people to establish new travel habits. Plus in the first days of a new service loads are lighter because you don't have any people "returning" yet.
3. The actual load factor on the scheduled EAS passenger flights is likely a notch or two higher in some cases than the stats indicate. That's because the T100 stats don't differentiate between scheduled passenger flights and empty non-passenger ferry flights. Look at CKB-ORD for November. Skywest flies 1x/day from CKB to ORD which would be 30 trips in November. But the November stats show 33 flights operated, not 30. The three extra are likely empty ferry flights operated CKB-ORD due to the Skywest maintenence base the Clarksburg. Skywest routinely operates empty ferry flights to/from maintenance base cities -- just in November Skywest operated other empty ferry flights at Clarksburg to or from places such as Hartford, South Bend, and Springfield MO. When an empty ferry flight happens to run a route like CKB-SBN it shows 1 flight with 0 passengers and 50 seats. But if they happen to run an empty ferry flight CKB-ORD or CKB-IAD that 1 flight with 0 passengers and 50 seats gets rolled into the stats of the scheduled EAS flights they operate on those routes. Those seats on the empty ferry flights make the load factor of the scheduled passenger EAS service look worse than it was.
That Skywest has a maintenence base in Clarksburg makes it better for them to have the EAS passenger contract for the city -- they are likely able to rotate more aircraft into CKB without having to ferry. But even when a city with a maintenance base has plenty of scheduled Skywest flights it's still not uncommon to have to run empty ferry flights in or out. For example Skywest operates more than a dozen scheduled flights every day at Colorado Springs, but in November Skywest still operated empty ferry flights from their Colorado Springs maintenance base to BIL, LAS, MKE, OKC, OMA and SFO. Those are just the cost of doing business. If they didn't operate scheduled flights to CKB at all then all aircraft in and out of that base woudl be empty ferry flights, of course.
As for projecting only a 42% load factor there certainly are many fuller EAS routes operated with 50-seat RJ's, but it's not a total outlier. Because of lower per-seat operating cost and the ability to serve more passengers with fewer flights, a market like CKB can have a far lower per-passengers subidy with a Skywest CRJ than a 9-seat prop. Skywest's per-passenger subsidy for CKB even with only a 42% projected load factor is $104. EAS markets operated with 9-seat props tend to have anywere between $160 and $400 subsidy per passenger.