Pierre Officials React To News That Watertown May Get Chicago Flight

(KCCR) — Officials with the City of Pierre are responding to the news that SkyWest Airlines has offered a Chicago, Illinois option for Essential Air Service flights out of Watertown. City Commissioner and Airport Liaison Jamie Huizenga says the Watertown City Council has approved a recommendation to change the flight schedule, a move that requires approval from the United States Department of Transportation…

“If approved, Watertown will trade one of its daily flights to Denver for an afternoon flight to Chicago.  Additionally, service between Pierre and Watertown would end if that were the…the case.  It’s our understanding that SkyWest reached out to Watertown with this proposal to change their flight schedule.  At this time the Pierre airport has received no such proposal nor have we received any information from SkyWest/United Express or the United States Department of Transportation about impacts to our air service.”

Should the U-S D-O-T approve the change, Pierre and Watertown would no longer be tied together as they have been under previous E-A-S contracts…

“Until the Federal government makes a decision, our flight schedule will remain the same.  So it’s just a Watertown situation but it this comes to be it would change the flights between Pierre and Watertown and Watertown and Pierre back and forth that would most likely go away if this change were to come to be, but at that point we would have two Pierre to Denver exclusive flights a day and not be tied Watertown with that morning flight.”
He says the proposed change could make it easier to get to Denver from Pierre…

“One of the big benefits to the City of Pierre is our morning flight, our plane, would overnight here versus now the morning flight starts in Watertown and then comes to Pierre and so you gotta have good enough weather in Watertown to take off and you have to have good enough weather in Pierre to land that plane.  And in the winter time, as we’ve seen, weather can be a little dicey, especially over on that eastern part of the state, so…if we are overnighting that plane, it’s here, we don’t have to wait and hope that it makes it or whatever, it should be here.  It has all night to get here.”
Officials in Watertown have hinted that the possible change, if approved by federal transportation officials could happened toward the end of summer.