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 3,160 daily departures. Combined, SkyWest's carriers operate a fleet of about 685 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 (62% of net sales) provides regional jet and turboprop service to airports primarily located in the Midwestern and western US.
ExpressJet (33%) 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. Its SkyWest Leasing segment (5%) operates two CRJ200 aircraft leased to a third party.
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.
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During 2016 about 87% of SkyWest's passenger revenues were 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. After revenues declined in 2015, the company saw its revenues marginally increase by 1% to $3.12 billion in 2016. The slight revenue bump was fueled by increases in passenger revenues attributable to higher compensation it earned on aircraft and 41 additional aircraft added in 2016.
After posting positive net income of $118 million in 2015, SkyWest suffered a net loss of $162 million in 2016. This was primarily due to a non-cash impairment charge of $467 million that was attributable to assets associated with the removal of its 50-seat aircraft.
SkyWest's operating cash flow surged 21% from $417 million in 2015 to $507 million in 2016 mainly due to favorable cash changes in its working capital accounts.
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. The airline industry, nonetheless, is changing 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.