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Taxpayer-Subsidized Flights to Noem Home Airport Shift to Include Chicago

In more government-subsidy news, the Federal Aviation Administration just approved subsidizing flights to Chicago from the rural airport to Governor Kristi Noem’s house:

The Federal Aviation Administration approved Skywest to operate United Express flights from Watertown to Chicago beginning Sept. 1.

The new daily route will replace one of the current flights to Denver. Skywest came to Watertown earlier this year and began flying to Denver [Michael Geheren, “Government Approves Watertown-to-Chicago Flights,” KELO-TV, 2019.06.04].

According to the USDOT documents posted by KELO-TV, SkyWest Airlines will continue to receive $2,653 from us taxpayers for each of its flights to and from Watertown.


  1. Old Spec.5 2019-06-04 19:07

    If memory serves me, Huron was cut off from the subsidy when it hit 5K per passenger

  2. John 2019-06-04 20:49

    I suspect that Huron lost its subsidy (and mooring) when it lost its 4 packing plants in rapid succession and about half its population (falling from 4th to tied for 10th most populous in South Dakota). The scrappy town returned to its roots – immigrants – to survive.

    It’s a 2-hour drive from Huron to the FSD airhead. That’s in a regional commuting distance in the metropolitan statistical economic area of US cities. It’s a similar distance from Watertown to FSD or from Watertown to Fargo – making a socialist subsidy a non-sequitur.

  3. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-06-05 07:03

    And the commute from Watertown to the Sioux Falls airport is easier than the drive from Huron to Joe Foss Field. We should just build a couple TGV lines across the state.

  4. Porter Lansing 2019-06-05 10:14

    Watertown Airport is the second best field in South Dakota. That’s why the FAA chose them and why the best President of our lifetime chose to land Air Force One there. (so there…)
    – During World War II, the Watertown airfield was used by the United States Army Air Forces as a Second Air Force cold weather bomber training base as an auxiliary to Sioux Falls Army Air Field, and by Air Proving Ground Command.
    – B-17 Flying Fortress and B-24 Liberator units underwent advanced training before going overseas. One unit that trained there was the 702d Bombardment Squadron of the 445th Bombardment Group.
    – The airport covers 919 acres (372 ha) at an elevation of 1,749 feet (533 m). It has two runways: 12/30 is 6,898 by 100 feet (2,102 x 30 m) concrete and 17/35 is 6,893 by 100 feet (2,100 x 30 m) concrete.
    – From 2012 to 2018, runways 17/35 and 12/30 were overhauled using concrete, replacing worn out asphalt on both runways.

  5. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-06-05 20:38

    Dang—Watertown needs to advertise that runway superiority to potential residents and businesses. Could they parlay that infrastructure into a competitive advantage that would allow them to support flights without subsidy?

  6. Porter Lansing 2019-06-05 21:41

    Nope. When the airline subsidy ran out, so did the business. In a liberal state it would be a huge benefit but businesses won’t come to SD for the reasons we talk about all the time.

  7. Shirley Moore 2019-06-06 14:31

    Isn’t Illinois where Aaron Schock is from?

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