JOPLIN, Mo. – The Joplin Regional Airport will have a new flight service provider starting June 1st. The new provider comes with a new destination for travelers out of the airport, but, it also takes away an option some have become used to.
For the past several years, American Airlines has been providing service to Joplin’s airport with flights to Dallas, and for a time, Chicago. Initially, American was brought to Joplin through the “Essential Air Service” program from the Department of Transportation.
As time went on, American was able to operate without the subsidy and stayed in Joplin. But the pandemic took it’s toll on travel and Joplin’s air service was up for bid again for Essential Air Service. This time, it was picked up by SkyWest. Joplin Airport Manager Steve Stockham says “SkyWest is one of the biggest carriers, the largest regional carrier in the United States, and they fly for a number of different, they fly for American, they fly for Delta, they fly for United, but primarily they fly for United Airlines.”
The change means the Chicago flights will return to the normal schedule and Denver will be added as a second hub. “We knew the Chicago market was going to be a strong market, but we also didn’t recognize how strong Denver was going to be out of that, so as part of this process that was a huge part of the evaluation as we went through.”
However, that means that Dallas flights will no longer be offered at the airport. We spoke with travelers at the airport some said it won’t have an impact on them. Kay Winrich frequently flies out of Joplin to Dallas. “I always hate to see something go, because we’re used to it, but if something new comes in and it works out fine, then I’m fine with it.”
We also contacted several local travel agencies, one told us they feel the change will be good as it helps with eastern markets through Chicago, and opens up markets in the west through Denver. Another agency we spoke with said they’re optimistic about opening the western markets, but, know that not having a direct, southern route, will be inconvenient to their customers.
Some viewers expressed concerns over their miles they’ve earned with American. Stockham tells us unfortunately, those miles are an asset to the specific airline and can’t be transferred. However, you will be able to transfer your membership status and level from American to United. Stockham says they hope to have more information on the SkyWest flights in the coming weeks.