Earning another term

FRANKLIN TOWNSHIP – SkyWest Airlines will continue to provide flights at Houghton County Memorial Airport through the Essential Air Service program for the next two years.

The federal Department of Transportation re-selected SkyWest as part of a group of several orders Monday. The EAS program subsidizes commercial air service to smaller areas that would not otherwise be able to sustain regular flights.

The proposed number of passengers is up over the prior contract, from 44,000 to 50,000. Because of increased demand, the proposed subsidy rate was reduced from $934,156 to $690,976.

SkyWest provides two flights a day to and from Chicago on a 50-seat regional jet. A third flight was also added for the summer.

This is the third EAS contract through the airport for SkyWest. It was awarded its first two-year contract in 2009 through EAS after former carrier Mesaba Airlines filed to terminate air service.

The department re-selected Delta Airlines to provide service at Pellston, Mich., and Sault Ste. Marie. SkyWest will serve three other sites at Paducah, Ky., Muskegon, Mich., and Eau Claire, Wis. American Airlines was tentatively re-selected for Watertown, N.Y.

The DOT said Hancock/Houghton and the other locations “are among the strongest traffic generators in the EAS program.”