United Airlines announced in May that a new company will handle ground services that about 600 SkyWest employees now manage at 16 airports, including SBA.
SkyWest, which operates as United Express and Delta Connection, has been handling ground services at SBA for more than 10 years; American Eagle, a division of American Airlines, will take over in August, according to SBA Assistant Director Hazel Johns.
“United Airlines puts out bid proposals routinely, and in the last bid SkyWest lost 16 different locations and Santa Barbara was one of those,” said Johns, adding that the change will not impact any flights.
Alaska Airlines began its direct seasonal flight from SBA to Portland this month, and Johns said the load factor has been high. The airport has been consistently filling up about 80 percent of its planes, but there has been around a 3 percent decrease in total passengers each of the past three years, she said.
“We have had a modest decrease over the past few years,” Johns said. “Part of that to is due to airlines that continue to make changes in aircraft and cut out seats.”
United and SkyWest representatives didn’t return calls for comment.