The test period for a third daily Delta Connections flight between Pocatello Regional Airport and Salt Lake City International Airport came to its scheduled end Sunday. Now airport officials will have to patiently wait for data and subsequent conversations with SkyWest Airlines to see if the flight can be brought back on a permanent basis.
SkyWest Airlines took advantage of a six-week runway closure at another airport as an opportunity to test the waters at Pocatello and see if the market could sustain the third daily flight. Airport officials and the Pocatello Chubbuck Chamber of Commerce Airport Committee have been networking and promoting the airport and the third flight to increase demand.
Airport Manager David Allen said the next step is to meet with SkyWest officials and discuss the outcome, but that can’t happen until all the data is in. “We are looking at late October or, more likely, early November,” Allen said.
Allen said he saw a significant increase in passenger traffic that seemed to be proportional to the increased capacity and may prove acceptable. But there are many variables to be considered from a system-wide point of view. He said that generally, the bottom line is, literally, the bottom line. “All other variables being equal, if an aircraft can generate more revenue with service from Pocatello than from Airport X, we are likely to get that flight.” But the variables are rarely equal, and Allen said he is not privy to the details. “In the end it is a SkyWest business decision.”
Even if SkyWest officials are encouraged by the numbers generated during the test, adding a flight back into the schedule is not a simple task. Allen speculated that a likely start date would be March 2016 at the earliest and more likely June. “It takes time to turn a big ship, and it takes time to change a big aviation system.”
Meanwhile, Allen and the committee will keep promoting the airport and building demand with the available schedule. “It’s important we continue to increase demand and show SkyWest officials that the community wants and needs local air service. While flying from Pocatello may not be the best option every time, I encourage everyone to check the fares, check the schedule, and fly from Pocatello as much as you can. Not only will you have a great travel experience but you could help make travel from Pocatello even easier in the future if it helps convince SkyWest to establish a third daily flight.”
For more information on fare comparisons and the true costs of driving to Salt Lake, visit iFlyPocatello.com.