Airline closures in one state affect communities, universities and businesses in neighboring states

The landscape of air travel throughout rural Missouri and Kansas could look a lot more sparse this summer. KRPS’s Fred Fletcher-Fierro has more.

Last week, SkyWest Airlines, which operates hubs out of several large cities, including Chicago, Denver, and San Francisco, announced that they would halt service out of 29 airports due to a shortage of pilots. In Missouri, the list includes Joplin, Cape Girardeau, and Fort Leonard Wood. Four Kansas towns are also affected, including Hays, Dodge City, Salina, and Liberal.

You’ll remember last March, Joplin city officials announced that Skywest would take over for American Eagle with daily flights to Denver, Chicago, and Houston. Flights to those three cities started last June. While SkyWest specializes in servicing rural areas of the US, according to a fact sheet on the companies website, the airline carried 36 million passengers in 2021.

The US Department of Transportation could step in and implement a “hold-in-order” for SkyWest to continue to operate until a replacement airline is secured. As of now, SkyWest will halt its Joplin operations in mid-June.

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