Aviation/ Skywest Airlines

Introduction

Regional airlines are airlines that conduct regional operations by either contracting with major airlines and acting as a feeder airline for them and using the major airline’s brand name, or providing a means of transport to isolated and small communities under their own brand name. The airlines can also operate under their brand name and operate scheduled services as independent airlines. Sky West Airlines is one of the biggest regional airlines in the Unites States.

Discussion

Sky West Airlines is a regional airline based in North America. This airline operates under other large airlines as a feeder. Feeder airlines contract with major airlines and operate under their brand names. These airlines pick passengers from surrounding communities and deliver them to the major airline’s centers.

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Feeder airlines are also useful in operating on days when the use of large aircrafts is not necessary because of few passengers. SkyWest Airlines, together with Atlantic Southeast Airlines are owned by SkyWest Airlines, Inc. The airline’s mission is to ensure that the airline is the customer’s first travel option and also to provide employment and investment opportunities to people.

SkyWest Airlines is headed by Russell Childs as the president and Chief Operating Officer. He has played a big role in strengthening the relationships between SkyWest Airlines and its partners. Mr. Childs has experience in construction, truck driving, and accounting.

He has a bachelor’s degree in economics and a master’s degree in Accounting. Jerry Atkin is the chairman of the board and the Chief Executive Officer. There are other directors heading various operations like customer service, maintenance, flight operations, marketing, in-flight, accounting and information technology, among others.

The airline was started in 1972 by Ralph Atkin, performing operations like aircraft maintenance, a flight school, air charter services and air ambulance services. Its very first fleet comprised of a six-seater Piper Seneca, a two-seater Piper Cherokee 140, a four-seater Cherokee Arrow and a six-seater Cherokee Six.

In 1977, the SkyWest Airlines made agreements with American Airlines, United Airlines, Texas International and Hughes, and this allowed check-in and baggage transfers between the airlines for the passengers. Its operations and costs increased in 1978 when it became certified as a major commuter airline. In 1980 SkyWest Airlines had a total of 150 employees and flew eight routes in four states.

In 1982, SkyWest Airlines received a permanent route authority to Nev, Elko, Ely and Reno. It flew about 87 flights daily and earned a net income of about $123,000. SkyWest Airlines bought Sun Aire in 1984 and became the eleventh largest regional airline in the United States, with a total of 250 employees.

In 1986 SkyWest Airlines offered its stock publicly and traded its shares under the name SKYW on the NASDAQ exchange. The money earned enabled the airline to clear the debts owed to Sun Aire and SGU hangar. The money was also used to acquire five new EMB 120 Brasilia turboprop aircrafts. Western was bought by Delta Airlines and this enabled SkyWest Airlines to become a carrier for Delta Connection. Thus, the airline was able to compete with other regional airlines like United Express and American Eagle.

In 1991 SkyWest Airlines made a profit of $2,024,000. Its founder Ralph Atkin retired as the chairman of the board and the position was taken up by Jerry Atkin. By now it had a total of 1528 employees and served eight states with a fleet comprising of 35 Metros and 15 Brasilias. SkyWest Airlines commenced a code-sharing agreement in 1997 with United Airlines and this greatly expanded the company. The airline was named the best managed airline and top regional airline of the year in 2000.

The airline made a code-sharing agreement with Continental airlines in 2003 and it began to provide regional services for them. During the same year, the company also launched their new and improved website. In that year, SkyWest Airlines earned $66,787,000 and carried about 10.7 million passengers.

In 2004, the Department of Transportation named SkyWest Airlines the best punctual airline in the United States. It had held the title for the past two years. It had a total of 7,000 employees and it carried about 13.4 million passengers. During that year it had net earnings of $81,952,000.

SkyWest Airlines launched its flights as a partner with Air Tran Airways. Currently, SkyWest Airlines employs about 11,000 employees and operates about 1,600 flights each day for its partners, Midwest Connect, United Express and Delta Connection. In 2010 SkyWest Airlines ltd. earned a total of 122.5 million dollars (SkyWest Airlines, 2011).

SkyWest Airlines is involved in partnerships with other airlines like Alaska Airlines, Delta Airlines, and United Airlines. The airline operates flights for these partners and they perform the ticketing and reservation services. Reservations can either be done over the counter, online or by phone. Incase of delay or cancellation of flights, the customers are notified on time and the reasons given.

The airline operates under fee-per-departure agreements with other airlines. This means that the major carriers are responsible for advertising and marketing. SkyWest Airlines is paid by the major airlines per flight (Plunkett, 2007).

In airline partnerships, the principal of code sharing is applied. This involves the sharing of airline identification codes and flight numbers between the major airlines and regional partners. For instance, SkyWest Airlines shares identification codes with Delta Airlines. This enables passengers to buy tickets from one airline and can change planes before reaching their destination.

The regional airline interacts with other international partners. It has affiliations with other airlines like Bombardier, Delta Airlines, Embraer, Regional Airline Association and United Airlines. SkyWest Airlines started its partnership with Bombardier aerospace in 1987. It operates their orders. It partnered with Delta Airlines in 1987. SkyWest Airlines is also a member of Regional Airline Association. The association represents the regional airlines in the United States. SkyWest Airlines operates as a feeder airline for United Airlines.

Regional airlines were originally seen as small by the major airlines pilots. But nowadays these airlines operate larger aircrafts on their routes. The pilot unions developed contracts that limited the amount of time and number of seats that could be flown by regional airlines. The Delta Airline union limited the number of seats that SkyWest and other regional airlines could fly.

But since they did not limit the number of aircrafts that they could fly, SkyWest Airlines and other airlines acquired more aircrafts. This affected Delta Airlines by reducing the number of pilot jobs. Major airlines do this so that they can increase their profits by using the regional airlines’ aircrafts that offer more city routes, cheaper pay for the pilots, and less cost structure.

Recently, regional airlines are employing airline managers who have college qualifications and a lot of experience both within and without the airline industry. In the past, managers used to rise up the corporate ladder from junior positions through their hard work and extra efforts. But nowadays the regional airlines have become complex and therefore the managers need to be trained on the running of modern airlines.

The old managers can also be replaced by educated managers who can be able to run the company to meet the current sophisticated needs of passengers. A regional airline manager needs to be very knowledgeable and able to minimize costs and adapt to changes in the airline industry. The airlines should be well managed to prevent losses and inconveniences caused by avoidable incidents like workers’ strikes (Wensveen, 2007).

Between 1970 and 1980, there were very many accidents involving regional airlines. These can be attributed to the swift growth of the airlines and therefore there was a need for many pilots to fly the aircrafts. There was not an adequate amount of time to efficiently train enough pilots to take up the numerous career opportunities that arose.

In addition, the equipment used were not as sophisticated as those used by other major airlines. The airlines also used the old rules that were not so keen on the demand for high qualifications of flight attendants and other crew. On top of that, pilots used to move from one airline to another without their job records being checked. A pilot would commit an offence or error in one airline and move to another one.

However, nowadays these records are checked and the pilots who commit some types of offences and violations cannot be employed by another airline. Currently, there are few accidents involving regional airlines because the above problems have been addressed. Today, regional airlines are even considered as a better option for safe travel compared to major airlines (Davies and Quastler, 1995).

SkyWest Airlines has several principles which guide it in the management of the business processes. These include giving first priority to the safety and health of the customers and ensuring the delivery of the best services to them. The company also upholds the principles of fairness, reliability, and commercial integrity. SkyWest Airlines provides the safest mode of air transport and has had few cases of accidents in a very long time.

SkyWest Airlines’ fleet has four types of aircrafts namely Canadair Regional Jet 700, Canadair Regional Jet 900, Bombardier Canadair Regional Jet 200 and 30-passenger EMB 120 Brasilias. There is a total of 313 aircrafts in the entire SkyWest Airlines fleet. The Dual-Class CRJ900 fleet has 21 aircrafts, 21 Dual-Class CRJ700, 151 CRJ200, 70 Three-Class CRJ700, five Single-Class CRJ700 and 45 aircrafts in the EMB 120 fleet.

Before a SkyWest Airlines airplane is flown, it undergoes thorough inspection in all the mechanical parts to ensure that it is functioning properly to ensure the safety of passengers. The flight crew is highly trained and experienced in all flight operations. The pilots at SkyWest Airlines are trained continuously and regularly for their entire careers.

The pilots are also given a lot of time to rest in order to ensure that they concentrate on their jobs, to ensure the safety of the passengers. They work for about four to five hours and are granted a 13 days leave every month. The pilots fly for about 940 hours per year which is less than the period of time allowed by the Federal Aviation Administration.

The SkyWest Airlines aircrafts are technologically developed. They are installed with technology features to prevent any accidents. For instance, a Ground Proximity Warning System warns the pilot incase of any obstacle on the way. It also warns them if they get very close to the ground when the plane is not ready for landing. A Global Positioning System gauges the position of the airlines. Traffic Alert and Collision Avoidance System is also used to determine the position of aircrafts (Seitz and Steele, 1985).

SkyWest Airlines employees enjoy the benefits of traveling at reduced fares. Their family members are also entitled to various privileges by the airline, including discounts and travel opportunities like car rentals and hotel services. The employees moreover have a health plan for insurance support and personal health.

There are other benefits like credit union membership, life insurance, educational savings plan and performance rewards, among others. The airline also employs people without discrimination. It is especially keen in non-discriminatory employment of people with disabilities, women, and the minorities. The airline ensures a good working environment for all the employees in order to ensure that they deliver quality services to the customers.

SkyWest Airlines does not allow passengers to bring certain types of luggage onboard, for instance, very large equipment. Explosive, corrosive, poisonous and magnetic items are also not allowed in the aircrafts to ensure the safety of the passengers. Passengers are allowed to travel with pets provided they put them in small kernels that can fit under the owner’s seat because seats can not be reserved for pets. The pets should also remain in the kernels throughout to protect other passengers from being attacked by them.

SkyWest Airlines cares for the needs of disabled people and they are encouraged to specify the nature of their disability when doing reservations so that it can be taken into account and their needs taken care of. For the physically handicapped, there are onboard wheelchairs on CRJ900 and CRJ 700 aircrafts.

SkyWest Airlines has grown very rapidly from operating one Piper Seneca to becoming one of the biggest regional airlines in the world. It has expanded its routes and acquired more airplanes and also the profits generated have greatly soared. The company now has a workforce of about 8,000 employees. The airline has used various strategies to grow in leaps and bounds. The airline has thrived on forming partnerships with other major airlines.

The company is also exploring many opportunities and even hopes to start partnerships with other low-cost airlines instead of just relying on network carriers. The company also plans to start operating independently in the 100-plus seat range aircrafts. The airline also plans to maintain continued and increased contractual deals with its partners and create even more partnerships with other regional airlines in the United States.

Conclusion

From the above discussion, it is clear that regional airlines form a great part of the airline industry. They have expanded and their standards have even surpassed those of major airlines.

They have even become the customers’ number one choice for the safe and convenient services they offer. Through the various partnerships that SkyWest Airlines and other airlines have formed, they have been able to reach a large number of customers. Due to its rapid growth, SkyWest Airlines is bound to become an extremely large regional airline.

Reference List

Davies, R.E.G. and Quastler, I. E. (1995). Commuter Airlines of the United States. USA: Smithsonian Institution Press.

Plunkett, J.W. (2007). Plunkett’s Transportation, Supply Chain and Logistics Industry Almanac 2007 (E-Book): Transportation, Supply Chain and Logistics Industry Market Research, Statistics, Trends and Leading Companies. USA: Plunkett Research, Ltd.

Seitz, F., and Steele, L.W. (1985). The Competitive Status Of The U.S. Civil Aviation Manufacturing Industry: A Study Of The Influences Of Technology In Determining International Industrial Competitive Advantage. USA: National Academies.

SkyWest Airlines. (2011). General Information. Retrieved October 26, 2011 from http://www.skywest.com/about/skywest-airlines-general-info.php

Wensveen, J. G. (2007). Air Transportation: A Management Perspective. Great Britain: Ashgate Publishing.

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