A new commercial airline will soon be flying into Pierre Regional Airport.
The USDOT announced late this afternoon that it has selected Denver Air Connection to fulfill the Essential Air Service (EAS) contract for Pierre. The two-year contract with Denver Air will begin June 1 and includes twelve weekly flights between Pierre and Denver.
“With Denver Air, we will continue to have affordable jet service,” said Pierre Mayor Steve Harding. “Our goal has always been to connect central South Dakota to the national air transportation system. You can get anywhere in the world from Denver.”
The new flight schedule isn’t available just yet. However, under the new contract, Pierre will share six flights a week with the Watertown Airport.
“We have shared flights with Watertown before,” said Harding. “Their peak season and our peak season are different.”
Ticket prices under the Denver Air contract have not yet been announced. However, they are expected to be comparable to current ticket prices out of Pierre.
“Affordability is something the USDOT team considers when determining which airline receives an EAS contract,” said Cameron Howard, Pierre Airport Manager. “I’d expect one-way tickets to be in that $80 to $120 range.”
Howard also says that, as long as people are flying United, they shouldn’t need to go through security or recheck bags between Pierre and their final destination.
“Denver Air has an interline agreement with United,” said Howard. “If you stay on United flights you should have a seamless transition between airports.”
Pierre is currently served by SkyWest Airlines through a USDOT EAS contract that was originally scheduled to conclude in April. The USDOT has ordered SkyWest to continue service to Pierre until Denver Air can begin its contract in June.
Three airlines, Boutique Air, Denver Air Connection and SkyWest, submitted bids for the new contract.
As the contract holder, the USDOT has its own review process to determine if an airline will be selected to serve an EAS community. When awarded an EAS contract, commercial airlines receive a federal subsidy to make air service affordable in remote communities like Pierre.