Good things happen when everyone pulls together, as evidence by the news last Friday that SkyWest Airlines soon will be replacing Delta for service in Alpena.
Congratulations to everyone who participated in that process.
Both U.S. Sens. Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow were quick to comment on the announcement, calling it a great day for the economic health of the community and region.
As we savor the news, however, let us also be reminded of the words of Alpena Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Jackie Krawczak, who said "Now we have to give SkyWest 100 percent of our support."
Indeed, we as a community need to rally behind our airport and the new carrier and support it everytime we need to fly.
While SkyWest just days after the announcement would be celebrating its 40th anniversary, one needs to understand these aren't days of "milk and honey" for the aviation industry.
For instance, while May statistics for SkyWest regarding flights and revenue were up when compared to the same statistics in May of last year according to their website, there still are concerns. Earlier this month, for example, officials with the airlines announced they would have to layoff 600 workers as the year progresses because of a change in policy with United Airlines, and its ground handling operators.
SkyWest has partnerships with Delta, United, US Airways and Alaska Airlines. It serves markets in the U.S., Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean with 3,900 daily departures.
Writing for USA Today, David DeMille wrote this week that company founder Ralph Atkin remembers back in 1972 when the company started with just a few small planes.
"Our small airline that began with three part-time pilots and four aircraft has become one-third of the nation's regional network, carrying one out of every 12 passengers who fly in the U.S. today," he said in the article. "In its first year, SkyWest carried 256 passengers. Last year SkyWest Airlines carried 24.5 million."
Because of its partnership with Delta, we expect SkyWest's transition here in Alpena will be rather seamless.
We have the carrier we wanted now in place. The rest is up to all of us to support that carrier with our travel reservations.