I just flew on a Delta Airlines Government Subsidized Flight!

Over the past couple of years, the Middle East airlines (Emirates, Etihad, and Qatar) have received a lot of bad press. There has been a big push from the big three American carriers (United, American and especially Delta) to create a nationalist fervor to fly American and Buy American.

Delta Airlines is leading the charge in this battle, with the premise that these Big 3 carriers are only in existence because of massive government subsidies. If there was a level playing field, airlines like their would not exist. In reality, the US Airlines are making money hand over fist. Instead of reinvesting in their airlines to create better experiences for the passengers, they engage in stock buybacks and hoard the money to create a better shareholder experience (read – increase stock price).

A short while ago we wrote about how we visited the Cedar City airport in Utah, which for all intents and purposes is run by Delta and funded by the government.

Delta (Skywest) operated a CRJ-200 plane that seats about 50 people on this flight. On today’s flight it was half empty.

Delta Skywest CRJ 200

The US Government subsidized this flight, but I don’t know to how much. I’d truly be interested to find out how much Uncle Sam threw into this one. Our one-way flight from CDC-SEA was only $119. While I know that a bunch of people were connecting to other locations, that seemed like a really cheap ticket.

Oh, small town flight attendants…

For a little bit of levity and humor, the flight attendant decided to come on board to let us know about connecting gate information:

“For those of you traveling to LAX, Los Angeles, your gate is C2. I don’t know where GEG is, maybe Georgetown? That’s at D3. Seattle, SEA, gate C4. YYC, I’m guessing that’s somewhere in Canada? If you know what YYC is then you’re sure where you’re going. I’m not, but it’s at gate E3.”

She also went through something similar for PIH (Pocatello), SJC (San Jose, CA) and most surprisingly LAS. Yes, she didn’t even know the airport code for Las Vegas.

Perhaps next time they can subsidize some classes on how to figure out airline codes…

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Author: Jon Nickel-D'Andrea

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11 Comments

    • That’s the joke… she had no idea!

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  1. The flight attendant only needs to be shown this: xkcd.com/1937

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  2. By pure economics this route is not profitable without subsidy. This is route is run by SkyWest, not Delta. Any airline that wants this subsidy can ask for it. Unlike the ME3, Delta can’t ask Qatar for $50B in subsidies to fly jumbo jets to their country. You don’t understand the issues at all.

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    • Jason, Skywest may be operating the flight but it’s under contract with Delta. It is a Delta route.

      That said, everything else you say is totally correct. The subsidy is to benefit the people of Cedar City. If there were no subsidy then no airline would fly there and wouldn’t give a damn. Then the residents would be faced with a multi hour drive to the (next) nearest airport just to be able to travel across the US.

      That’s a huge difference to the ME3 who are owned by their governments, and two of them (Etihad and Qatar) wouldn’t be viable concerns without the tens of billions of (hidden) subsidies.

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      • It’s only an hour drive. And the subsidies aren’t hidden. Many in the USA are however.

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  3. Subsidy for your route was:

    Utah – Cedar City SLC $97

    works out in the 2.3 million dollar range.

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    • How’d you get those numbers?

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  4. This is a stretch, at best. The Essential Air Service program is meant to connect far off places to air service. States lobby for it, and it’s put out to bid. These services are generally provided by carriers like Cape Air, Boutique Air and Air Choice One.

    In recent years SkyWest has entered some of the markets as they have a ton of owned, otherwise orphaned CRJ200s and happen to be headquartered in an EAS heavy part of the country. They fly them on an at-risk basis to either United’s DEN hub or Delta’s SLC hub. SkyWest itself gets the subsidy, the small town gets not just token air service, but air service with worldwide connection opportunities. The major carrier gets the minimal feed. Delta/United/American/Alaska doesn’t get the subsidy (nor do they have any concern whether “they” serve these markets or not), the actual operating carrier does.

    Attempting to connect the US EAS program smartly codesharing with major US carriers to Middle East oil carrier government subsidies falls flat.

    This situation is not unique or new, and the dynamics of it are well-known in the smaller communities that rely on these services.

    Here’s a list of the 113 markets in the contingent US that are EAS in 2018. There are an additional 44 in Alaska. You’ll find the answer to your question there- SkyWest will receive a subsidy of $2,645,932 per year.

    https://cms.dot.gov/sites/dot.gov/files/docs/mission/office-policy/aviation-policy/302296/subsidized-eas-report-non-alaska-communities-january-2018.pdf

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  5. there’s more to this than the story and the lone comment—-https://www.usatoday.com/story/travel/columnist/mcgee/2015/09/02/how-much-do-taxpayers-support-airlines/71568226/

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  6. Totally idiotic. Why can’t they drive one hour to St. George and fill a few planes up daily to LAS and SLC to connect from there? Anything else could be handled by small private flights contracted out by companies in these areas when needed. Yeah, I understand Nome and a handful of other isolated cities but this is ridiculous.

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