Plattsburgh, NY — A key airline at Plattsburgh International Airport has announced their plans to leave.

Since 2018, SkyWest Airlines has been offering 12 weekly round-trip flights from Plattsburgh International Airport to Washington DC, allowing North Country residents and nearby neighbors in Canada to connect with larger hubs.

Officials said there’s no shortage of passengers on SkyWest flights, but there has been a shortage of employees in a struggling airline industry. The company’s corporate communications wrote, “SkyWest continues navigating staffing challenges generated by a surge in COVID cases. As a result of these challenges, we expect to discontinue United Express service at Plattsburgh this spring.”

Assemblyman Billy Jones (D-Chateaugay) was surprised by the announcement and commented, “Very disappointed, I’m disappointed in this but I think the Plattsburgh Airport has a proven track record and we’re confident that we’re going to be able to attract another airline in here.”

Airport Director Chris Kreig said in a statement that while the announcement is disappointing, that it is “understandable given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the unprecedented challenges the pandemic has created for the airline industry.”

In 2018, SkyWest put together a bid that won out over PenAir, which had been offering flights from Plattsburgh to Boston since 2012. Both airlines rely on funding from the US Department of Transportation’s Essential Air Service program, a subsidy that helps connect smaller airports to larger ones.

Plattsburgh leaders are hopeful the airport will be able to bounce back quickly from SkyWest’s departure.

“More access has been generated and more attention has been generated since SkyWest’s arrival, so when we do find a replacement I look forward and hope that they can provide a similar service,” said Plattsburgh mayor, Chris Rosenquest.

Plattsburgh Town Supervisor Michael Cashman added, “I do believe that this market is strong enough that it will support good connectivity in the future. You don’t know what you don’t know, but there are people that are actively working on the situation right now.”

SkyWest gave a 90 day notice but the contract isn’t up until the first of July. The company will have to stay until another airline can take it’s place.