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Economy & Business

New Airline Coming To Waynesville-St. Robert Airport At Fort Leonard Wood

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SkyWest Airlines
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SkyWest Airlines will serve the Waynesville-St. Robert Airport at Fort Leonard Wood with 50 seat regional jets like this one, operating as United Express.

Starting this fall, 50-seat regional jets will serve the airport at Fort Leonard Wood, giving both military and civilians in the area another opportunity for air travel.

Skywest, operating as United Express, will have two daily nonstop flights to O’Hare Airport in Chicago beginning Oct. 16. Travelers can connect to United flights without having to change terminals or retrieve their luggage.

United has 434 flights daily to 170 destinations out of Chicago.

“It’s going to provide the best opportunity for people to get to where they need to go in a timely and efficient way. And we look forward to bringing that service to Fort Leonard Wood,” said Greg Atkin, director of market development for SkyWest.

SkyWest is taking over the Essential Air Service contract at the Waynesville-St. Robert airport. The EAS is a federal program that gives subsidies to an airline to provide passenger service at small airports.

The airport at Fort Leonard Wood has high usage at peak travel times like Thanksgiving and Christmas, but also around military graduations when families and friends come to see their soldiers.

“We are going to be able to accommodate a higher level of traffic on those peak days. And that’s one of the ways we can help to grow the air service in the community,” Atkin said.

SkyWest replaces Contour Airlines, which only served St. Louis with smaller, 30-seat planes. Countour also required passengers to transfer to other flights on their own, including getting their luggage and bringing it to another carrier.

Some community leaders privately complained that service to St. Louis, a two-hour drive from Fort Leonard Wood, did not provide significant travel alternatives.

“Having air service on United to Chicago opens the door for potential growth for the airport terminal and the region,” said Waynesville Mayor Jerry Brown.

Contour served 9,666 passengers in 2020, which was up from the previous year, but still shy of the 10,000 yearly passengers the airport is looking for to make it eligible for additional federal funding.

Follow Jonathan on Twitter: @JonathanAhl

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