United Continues Role as Sole Passenger Service Provider at Muskegon County Airport

With no new commercial air carriers known to be coming to Muskegon soon, United Airlines will remain the airport’s only airline at this time.

Muskegon County’s Board of Commissioners approved a new one-year lease with SkyWest Airlines, Inc. the company who contracts with United Airlines to provide regional, small-plane air service to smaller airports.  United Airlines, which previously ended service to Muskegon in the late 1970s, picked up service again when SkyWest won a bid in 2009.

The Muskegon County Airport supported two or more carriers at one: Midwest Airlines (now Frontier Airlines) and Northwest (later Delta).  Midwest Airlines left in 2008, but Delta (operated by Mesaba Airlines) left just about the time SkyWest/United came in, leaving the airport with one commercial carrier ever since.

Muskegon County Airport functions as part of the federal government’s Essential Air Service program. Funding for this program totaling around $700,000 has been in jeopardy in recent years, but did come through in its most recent renewal.

Ridership on commercial flights out of Muskegon has been up and down over the past several years, but the airport expanded its passenger recruitment efforts over the last few years with a new ad campaign focusing on the conveniences of a small airport and excitement surrounding charter flights to Las Vegas.

New car rental options recently became available at the airport, and cargo, private plane and other aviation remain at the airport as well.

Whether these new reasons to come to the airport will improve its bottom line, or could sustain it without the Essential Air Service funding, is to be determined. For now, things remain status quo.

Andrew Trzaska

103.7 “The Beat” – local government beat reporter and political analyst