SkyWest Airlines (OO, Salt Lake City) branded as United Express, replaces Air Choice One (3E, St. Louis Lambert Int'l) as the Essential Air Service (EAS) provider at Fort Dodge and Mason City, Iowa, from March 1, 2021, for a three-year term until February 29, 2024, bringing back a regional jet service and connectivity to Chicago O'Hare.

According to a regulatory notice by the US Department of Transportation, SkyWest Airlines will use 50-seater CRJ200s to provide 12x weekly round trips each to Chicago O’Hare from Fort Dodge and Mason City at a combined annual subsidy of more than USD6 million (USD3,071,656 and USD3,006,057 respectively). The airline will be required to provide at least two daily round trips six days a week to an eligible place that is not in Alaska.

The DOT said both communities had supported SkyWest's proposals, which already had a solid reputation serving more than 40 EAS communities. Also, SkyWest’s codeshare with United Airlines (UA, Chicago O'Hare) would provide Fort Dodge and Mason City with connections through Chicago. The carrier would also spend USD20,000 on marketing its air service to each community.

Should SkyWest need additional time, the department will extend Air Choice One’s term until the incumbent can commence its services.

Apart from SkyWest, airlines that had competed for the new contract included Air Choice One, Boutique Air (4B, San Francisco, CA), and Key Lime Air through its Denver Air Connection (KG, Denver Centennial) brand.

Air Choice One has been providing the EAS service to both cities, using nine-seater Cessna Aircraft Company (Wichita Cessna Aircraft Field) Grand Caravans since March 1, 2017. From Fort Dodge, it flew 12x weekly nonstop rotations to Minneapolis/St. Paul; and 12x weekly nonstop round trips to St. Louis Lambert Int'l. From Mason City, Air Choice One offered 12x weekly nonstop return flights to Minneapolis-St. Paul; and 12x weekly nonstop round trips to Chicago O’Hare, at the combined annual subsidy of USD5.8 million (USD2,939,903 each) for the first two years and another USD5.8 million (USD2,920,404 each) for the last two years of the contract.