CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) - SkyWest Airlines has been approved as Cape Girardeau's essential air service provider.
According to the City of Cape Girardeau officials, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced the approval on Monday, Aug. 28.
"We are excited to welcome SkyWest to Cape Girardeau," said Airport Manager Bruce Loy. "The new, United Express service to Chicago will connect Cape Girardeau passengers to 208 nonstop destinations, including 153 domestic and 55 international communities. The Cape Girardeau region will soon be directly connected to destinations all over the world with more than 1230 daily flights, including over 600 daily United Airline departures.
SkyWest will fly 50-seat regional jets for 12 weekly roundtrips to Chicago O'Hare International Airport. This includes two daily trips on weekdays and one daily on weekends.
There will be one daily nonstop flight to Chicago, and one daily one-stop flight through Quincy, Illinois and then on to Chicago.
After a thorough evaluation, the Board voted to recommend SkyWest Airlines to the City Council. On July 24, the City Council agreed with the Board's recommendation and took action to forward Cape Girardeau's preference for SkyWest Airlines to the DOT.
SkyWest operated aircraft for American, Delta and United Airlines. There will be ticket and baggage agreements and codeshare, for easy travel from Cape Girardeau through Chicago to many destinations.
Officials said a flight from Cape Girardeau (CGI) to Chicago (ORD) will take about an hour. Flights will have two flight crew, one flight attendant, and a bathroom. The airline will operate out of Cape Girardeau as United Express.
"We've had a good partner in Cape Air," said Loy. "They have become family and we are going to miss working with them, however, it is unfortunate that we can only choose one carrier. While it was a difficult decision, we are excited to see scheduled passenger service to Chicago with a regional jet!"
SkyWest's proposal to serve Cape Girardeau was contingent on also serving Quincy, IL and vice versa. Both communities sent recommendations for SkyWest to the DOT as required of SkyWest's proposal.
Minor enhancements are required to Cape Girardeau's airport terminal. Upgrades will include additional seating and furniture to increase waiting area occupancy and enlarging the terminal's security holding area.
"They will come into the airport and let us know what they need to do in regards to IT systems and computer systems and figure out what we need to do to get us going and get us up into their reservation scenario so we can have people start making reservations," Loy said.
Service is estimated to start December 2017. Cape Air will continue to provide service between Cape Girardeau and St. Louis until then.