(Riverton, WY) – Beginning February 11th, 2022, SkyWest Airlines, operating as United Express, will offer one daily roundtrip flight between Central Wyoming Regional Airport and Denver International Airport.
This represents a reduction from the two daily roundtrip flights currently available at the airport and is the result of a national pilot shortage. It is also a proactive step to ensure Fremont County receives a reliable flight schedule during the late winter months.
Airlines across the United States recently experienced a period of schedule instability. Approximately 20,000 domestic flights were canceled in the two-week period surrounding the holiday season and the New Year. This resulted in nearly 1,500 flight cancellations per day.
Optimistic flight schedules, in response to the public reembracing flying, did not include sufficient contingency for issues such as mechanical, weather, or staffing shortage. In particular, the volume of staff shortages has been extraordinary due to the global pandemic and necessary quarantine practices. On January 11th, United Airlines reported 3,000 employees out after testing positive for COVID-19.
As result, airlines are curtailing planned routes for the near term in hopes of minimizing cancellations and stabilizing flight schedules.
“Fremont County was not immune to the effects of the omicron virus on the airline industry,” reports Kyle Butterfield, Public Works Director and Airport Manager. “We apologize for any inconvenience our travelers experienced over the holidays. Furthermore, we have been working with SkyWest Airlines to ensure Central Wyoming Regional receives the most reliable schedule possible during this time of instability.”
After February 11th, the flight schedule from Central Wyoming Regional Airport will depart at 3:30 PM and arrive in Denver at 4:40 PM. The inbound flight will depart Denver International Airport at 1:40 PM and arrive in Riverton at 3:00 PM. United Express associates will contact individuals that have already booked flights in February should reaccommodation be necessary.
Missy White, Fremont Air Service Team (FAST) Chair added, “It’s a frustrating development, given that we had such a strong year of flying. That we had over 15,000 enplanements for 2021, the third highest in the last 20 years, is a big accomplishment. This speaks to the role air service holds in our economic development efforts and our quality of life.”
FAST, Central Wyoming Regional Airport, and the City of Riverton continue to work with SkyWest to advocate for air service. The expectation is that we will return to twice-daily flights between Denver and Fremont County once airlines are able to resume regular schedules. It is anticipated the return to more normal operations will happen by springtime. However, a specific date has yet been established.
“It is important to note that regional and hub airports across the nation have had flight schedules reduced,” said Ms. White. “We understand these cancellations have frustrated local flyers. The challenges are not unique to our airport. To that end, we appreciate that Fremont County supports flying locally, and encourage them to continue to do so.”