SkyWest traverses the skies in every direction -- not just west. The airline operates through two main segments: SkyWest Airlines and ExpressJet. SkyWest has destinations to about 275 cities in the US, Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean, supporting 3,300 daily departures. Combined, SkyWest's carriers operate a fleet of about 700 aircraft consisting of Canadair regional jets (CRJs, made by Bombardier) and turboprops. SkyWest also has a code-sharing agreement with Delta Air Lines and United Continental's United Airlines. (Code-sharing allows airlines to sell tickets on one another's flights.)
SkyWest operates through three reportable segments: SkyWest Airlines, Skywest Leasing, and ExpressJet (which reflects the combined operations of Atlantic Southeast and ExpressJet Delaware). SkyWest Airlines provides regional jet and turboprop service to airports primarily located in the Midwestern and western United States.
ExpressJet provides regional jet service principally in the US, primarily from airports located in Atlanta; Cleveland; Chicago (O'Hare); Denver; Houston; Detroit; Memphis; Minneapolis; and Washington Dulles. SkyWest Airlines provides regional jet service to airports primarily located in the Midwestern and Western US, as well as Mexico and Canada.
Along with regional passenger transportation, which accounts for nearly all of its sales (98%), SkyWest provides ground handling services -- loading and unloading of aircraft -- for other airlines at several of the airports where it operates.
Sales and Marketing
During 2015 about 90% of SkyWest's passenger revenues related to contract flights, where Delta, United, Alaska, American, and US Airways controlled scheduling, ticketing, pricing, and seat inventories.
SkyWest's balance sheet has experienced turbulence over the years. Revenues fell 4% from 2014 to 2015 from $3.2 billion to $3.1 billion. The revenue drop was attributed to decreases in passenger revenues related to a net reduction of aircraft from 717 aircraft in 2014 to 660 aircraft in 2015.
After posting a net loss of $24 million in 2014, SkyWest posted positive net income of $118 million in 2015, its highest total in almost 10 years. The surge in profits was attributed to a decrease in aircraft maintenance, materials, and repairs expenses and a drop in the replacement and repair of aircraft parts and components.
SkyWest's operating cash flow spiked by 47% from 2014 to 2015, mainly due to the improved net income and favorable changes in working capital affiliated with an increase in income tax receivable.
Amid growing demand by airline giants to cut costs by outsourcing regional flights, SkyWest is moving to further diversify its operations and marketplace presence. Owning ExpressJet positions SkyWest as a strong competitor for more business from Delta and United, as well as for contracts from other carriers. Industry turbulence, however, is growing as air carriers move to consolidate.
In 1972 Ralph Atkin founded SkyWest with one airplane that served three points in Utah. The company doubled in size in 1984 when it bought California-based Sun Aire Lines; two years later it went public. Growth also was fueled by the trend toward code-sharing agreements between major airlines and regional airlines serving rural markets. SkyWest jumped on board with Delta in 1987 to become one of four Delta Connection carriers.