SkyWest continues flights, but wants new permanent service for PIB

Published: Aug. 30, 2022 at 8:15 PM CDT
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JONES COUNTY, Miss. (WDAM) - SkyWest Airlines has done an about-face and will continue offering flights at Hattiesburg-Laurel Regional Airport, at least for the time being.

Last March, SkyWest said it was pulling out of PIB and some other airports, because of a nationwide pilot shortage.

Now, it wants to stay in the Pine Belt long term, but only if it can work out a new agreement with the Federal Aviation Administration to let it fly as a scheduled charter service instead of a scheduled air carrier.

“It’s a different type of flying order from the FAA, so what it will help them do, SkyWest, is train pilots, and so, they can grow their own pilots within the system here,” said Tom Heanue, executive director of the Hattiesburg-Laurel Regional Airport.

“Pilots don’t have to have so many hours, the seat configuration changes, and there’s other rules in there, too. It’s a little more lenient, which allows SkyWest to want to stay with us and work with us.”

SkyWest’s decision is good news for airport administrators and air travelers.

“Unless something unforeseeable happens, just total lack of pilots or there’s some other type of disaster that occurs in our country that stops flying, we should be seeing SkyWest flying as United (Airlines) to Houston, two flights a day,” Heanue said.

“(It’s) great news because someone can come pick me up without having to travel a long distance, so I enjoy it,” said Simone Bryant.

Bryant was traveling back home to Michigan Tuesday from Hattiesburg-Laurel Regional Airport, after visiting relatives in South Mississippi.

“I appreciate them being here,” said Bryant

SkyWest should know in a few months if its new service will get the OK from the FAA.

Currently, the airline also makes stopovers in Meridian on its daily flights to and from Houston.

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