Senators Announce Department of Transportation to Move Forward on Essential Air Service Plans for Bert Mooney Airport

(Washington, D.C.) – Montana’s U.S. Senators Max Baucus and Jon Tester announced today the Department of Transportation has answered their calls to move forward with an Essential Air Service plan at Butte’s Bert Mooney Airport. Today, the Department of Transportation selected SkyWest Airlines to provide Essential Air Service to Butte.

“Montana jobs rely on transportation and it’s critical that our small businesses and families have reliable and affordable air transportation. I’ve been pressing the Transportation Secretary to make sure folks in Butte have a voice in this process and today’s announcement will help bring certainty to a situation that was creating some unease,” said Baucus, Chairman of the Essential Air Service Caucus.

“Keeping Butte businesses and families connected is important for jobs and businesses,” Tester said. “Accessible, efficient air service means small businesses can expand and more visitors will enjoy Montana. I’m glad folks came together to support Butte, and I look forward to helping more communities and small businesses grow across the Treasure State.”

Bert Mooney Airport manager Pat Shea said that the EAS announcement is welcome news. “This will finally put Butte and our surrounding communities at ease that SkyWest Airlines will operate 7 days a week with two flights a day,” Shea noted with the announcement, Bert Mooney will add one flight per week. “Senator Baucus and Senator Tester have kept Butte’s situation on the front burner with the Department of Transportation and helped get this news we’ve been waiting to hear earlier than the February 10th deadline. Max and Jon have worked hard to help ensure that EAS would still service communities that had recently been targeted for termination of airline service. SkyWest airlines have provided quality service to Butte since 1995 and we look forward to continuing this long standing relationship.”

Additional information:
The Department of Transportation declared an order today selecting SkyWest Airlines, Inc. to provide Essential Air Service to Butte, Aberdeen, South Dakota, Bemidji, Minnesota.

• July 15, 2011: Delta announced it would end service to 24 airports nationwide including Bert Mooney Airport in Butte. Baucus and Tester immediately wrote to Delta CEO Richard Anderson asking the company to reconsider its plan to end service as it stands.

• August 1, 2011: Baucus meets with Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood expressing concern that Butte would be unfairly targeted by Delta’s plan to end service to Bert Mooney Airport.

• September 13, 2011: Transportation Department responds to Baucus’ request by issuing an order prohibiting Delta from suspending service at Bert Mooney Airport.

• January 25, 2012: Baucus successfully urges Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood to move forward with an Essential Air Services plan for Butte. Letter available ONLINE HERE.