SkyWest operates an average of more than 2,400 flights per day to 250 cities in the United States, Canada and Mexico with an extensive network of routes largely set up to connect passengers between smaller airports and the large hubs of its partner airlines. In total, SkyWest carried 35.9 million passengers in 2017.
The company operates an average of 1,050 flights per day as Delta Connection on behalf of Delta Air Lines, 900 flights per day as United Express on behalf of United Airlines, 370 flights per day as American Eagle on behalf of American Airlines, and 160 flights per day as Alaska SkyWest on behalf of Alaska Airlines.
In 1997 SkyWest began operating as United Express in addition to Delta Connection on flights out of United Airlines hubs at SFO, LAX and DEN. SkyWest became United's largest United Express operation by the late 1990s. Flights were initially operated with Embraer EMB 120s and Bombardier CRJ200 regional jets. CRJ700s were added in the early 2000s and the Embraer 175 were added in 2014.
On August 4, 2010, SkyWest, Inc. announced that it planned to acquire ExpressJet and merge it with SkyWest subsidiary Atlantic Southeast Airlines in a deal reported to have a value of $133 million. The purchase aligned the largest commuter operations of United Airlines and Continental Airlines, who were in a merger process, and was approved on September 13, 2010, by the Federal Trade Commission.
In May 2011, SkyWest replaced Horizon Air on six routes on the West Coast being operated for Alaska Airlines. The flights were based out of Seattle and Portland, and fly to several California cities including Fresno, Burbank, Santa Barbara and Ontario. Horizon Air had been operating these routes with Bombardier CRJ700 aircraft however Horizon retired this aircraft from its fleet. Alaska Airlines had a similar agreement with PenAir for Alaskan flights and Horizon Air for flights in the lower 48.
On November 15, 2012, SkyWest began a capacity purchase agreement with American Airlines for 12 Bombardier CRJ200 aircraft operating as American Eagle from American's hub in Los Angeles, California. This code share agreement with American was greatly expanded over the next several years to include destinations from American's hubs at Chicago, Dallas/Fort Worth, and Phoenix. Larger CRJ700/900 aircraft were introduced to the American Eagle system in 2016 and the smaller CRJ200s were discontinued in 2020. Embraer 175 aircraft joined the American Eagle system in late 2021.
On September 6, 2017, SkyWest Airlines reported that it has entered into aircraft purchase agreements and capacity purchase agreements to acquire and fly 15 new aircraft with Delta Air Lines and 10 new aircraft with Alaska Airlines. Of the 25 aircraft, 15 Embraer 175SC aircraft will fly under an agreement with Delta in a 70-seat configuration. The E175SC aircraft is built on the same airframe as other E175 aircraft and can be retrofitted to 76 seats in the future. The agreement with Alaska includes 10 Embraer 175 aircraft which will be configured with 76 seats, similar to aircraft SkyWest has previously placed into service with Alaska. Expected delivery dates of the 25 aircraft run from March 2018 through the end of 2018.
On December 18, 2018, SkyWest, Inc. announced that it would sell ExpressJet Airlines to another airline holding company with ties to United Airlines, ExpressJet's sole client. The $70 million sale closed on January 23, 2019.
The vast majority of SkyWest's contracts are fixed-fee, with partner airlines paying a set amount for each flight operated, regardless of the number of passengers carried. The remaining 7% of flights are operated under a pro-rate contract, with SkyWest assuming all costs, setting fares, retaining all revenue from non-connecting passengers, and splitting the fares of connecting passengers on a pro-rated basis with the partner airline. SkyWest currently operates on a pro-rate basis on 68 routes across 10 hubs through agreements with American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and United Airlines.
As of early 2021, SkyWest operates to 50 smaller cities that are subsidized under the federal governments' Essential Air Service program. 36 are served under the United Express brand and 14 under the Delta Connection brand. Service to four other airports in Wyoming are subsidized by the state of Wyoming and operate under the United Express brand. All subsidized routes are flown with Bombardier CRJ200 regional jets.
Performance figures for SkyWest Airlines are fully incorporated into the accounts of its parent company, SkyWest, Inc.
Figures that are available for SkyWest Airlines alone (referred to as 'SkyWest Airlines segment' data in the Group accounts), are shown below (as at year ending December 31):
SkyWest has the largest fleet of any regional airline in the United States. Since 2015, the airline has exclusively operated jet aircraft. Most Skywest aircraft are painted in the livery of partner carriers, but SkyWest does have a small number of aircraft in its own livery that can be operated for any partner airline as needed.
SkyWest is a major operator of the CRJ family of regional jets, and is the largest operator of the Bombardier CRJ200 and took delivery of the last CRJ ever built, a CRJ 900.
Like most regional airlines in the United States, SkyWest is subject to scope clause requirements of its mainline carrier partners and their pilot unions; those requirements limit the size of the aircraft flown by a regional airline, measured in seat capacity. This has created three subgroups of aircraft flown by SkyWest: aircraft with no more than 50 seats, no more than 70 seats and no more than 76 seats.
As of April 2022, the SkyWest Airlines fleet consists of the following aircraft, categorized by seating capacity:
Note: the above chart only shows aircraft in scheduled service. It does not include aircraft that are: owned by SkyWest but leased to other operators, removed from service, transitioning between agreements with partners, used as spares, parked, or in the process of being parted out.
SkyWest previously operated Embraer EMB 120 turboprop aircraft until 2015. The airline also operated Fairchild Swearingen Metroliner turboprops (Metro II and Metro III models). In 1984, SkyWest was operating the largest Metro propjet fleet in the world with 26 aircraft, and by 1991 the Metro fleet had grown to 35 aircraft with 15 Brasilia propjets also being operated. By 1994, the first jet, a Bombardier CRJ-100, was added to the fleet and by 1996 all of the Metro propjets had been retired as they were progressively replaced with Brasilia aircraft.
According to the airline's website, at its inception SkyWest was operating all flights in the early 1970s with small propeller-driven, piston-engine aircraft, including:
January 15, 1990: SkyWest Airlines Flight 5855, a Fairchild Metroliner, collided with terrain during an instrument approach to Elko, Nevada. There were four serious and nine minor injuries.
February 1, 1991: SkyWest Airlines Flight 5569, a Fairchild Metroliner, was awaiting departure clearance on an active runway at LAX for a scheduled flight to Palmdale when USAir Flight 1493, a Boeing 737-300 arriving from Columbus, Ohio, collided with it while it was landing. Skywest 5569 was directed to position and hold on runway 24L at the intersection of taxiway 45. US1493 was cleared to land on 24L one minute later by the same local controller. One minute later, the 737 touched down, then landed on the SkyWest Metro, which was still holding in position 2,400 feet (730 m) from the runway threshold. The two planes slid down the runway, then off to the side, coming to rest against an unoccupied firehouse, and burst into flames. All twelve on the Metroliner were killed (ten passengers and two pilots), and 22 of the 89 aboard the 737 perished (20 passengers, 1 pilot, and 1 flight attendant). The cause was found to be air traffic controller error.
May 21, 1997: SkyWest Airlines Flight 5724, an Embraer EMB 120, N198SW, experienced a total loss of engine power to the right engine and associated engine fire, followed by a total loss of all airplane hydraulic systems, after takeoff from San Diego International Airport, California. The airplane sustained substantial damage. The 2 pilots, 1 flight attendant, and 14 passengers were not injured. Skywest Airlines was operating the airplane as a scheduled domestic passenger flight under 14 CFR Part 121. The flight was destined for Los Angeles, California. It diverted to Miramar NAS, San Diego, where it landed at 14:27 local time. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time, and an IFR flight plan was filed.
January 13, 2008: A United AirlinesBoeing 757-200 jet with maintenance workers on board at San Francisco International Airport backed into SkyWest Airlines Flight 6398, a Bombardier CRJ700 carrying 60 passengers and crew. The collision occurred at 7:30 p.m. as the 757 was being taken out of service and being moved without passengers from Gate 80 to a hangar for the night. The passengers on board the SkyWest plane were taken off the plane, which had left its gate and was waiting to depart to Boise, Idaho. Both planes suffered tail and engine damage, but no one on board either plane was injured.
September 7, 2008: SkyWest Airlines Flight 6430, a Bombardier CRJ700 operating as a United Express flight from Los Angeles, California ran off a runway after landing in San Antonio, Texas. An airport spokesman indicated that the aircraft appeared to be having mechanical difficulties, and resulted in the airport's primary runway being closed for two hours until the aircraft could be removed. No injuries were reported among the 52 passengers and 4 crew members on board.
July 17, 2012: An out-of-service SkyWest Bombardier CRJ200 operating for Delta Connection was stolen by a SkyWest pilot on administrative leave, after murdering his girlfriend several days earlier, and substantially damaged at the St. George Regional Airport in St. George, Utah. The pilot started the engines and taxied the aircraft into a parking lot, striking the terminal and damaging several parked cars in the process. He would die from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. The aircraft was out of service and there were no other passengers or crew on board.
May 11, 2015: SkyWest Airlines Flight 5316, a Bombardier CRJ200 operating as a United Express flight from Monterey, California to Los Angeles, California landed after its landing gear failed to fully deploy. The left wing scraped the ground on Runway 24 Left. All 40 passengers and three crew members safely deplaned and no injuries were reported.
December 4, 2016: SkyWest Airlines Flight 5588, an Embraer E175 operating as a United Express flight from George Bush Intercontinental Airport to Monterrey, Mexico, was diverted to San Antonio International Airport after experiencing an abnormal landing gear indication. Upon landing, the nose gear of the aircraft collapsed, and the aircraft came to rest on runway 04. Of the 51 passengers and 4 crew members, only 1 minor injury was sustained during the evacuation. During recovery of the aircraft, it was discovered that a failed downlock spring on the nose gear had prevented the landing gear from locking in the down position.
February 25, 2022: SkyWest 4234, a CRJ 200 operating as a Delta Connection flight from Twin Falls, Idaho to Salt Lake City, Utah was ordered back to Joslin Field when a faulty landing gear indicator light was detected in the cockpit. No one was injured but another plane had to be brought up from Salt Lake to pick up the passengers and the crippled aircraft had to be taken to Boise, Idaho for repairs.