KEARNEY, Neb. — Kearney appears poised to return to SkyWest as its essential air service provider.

The city council voted 4-0 on Tuesday to submit a letter of recommendation to the Department of Transportation in favor of SkyWest. The DOT operates the program that subsidizes small airports like Kearney’s and selects the EAS providers for the airports.

SkyWest was the lone bidder to be the provider for Kearney Regional Airport. Denver Air Connection currently operates flights from Kearney but the company’s contract expires at the end of October. Mayor Stan Clouse said at Tuesday’s meeting that Denver Air agreed to “gracefully bow out” of bidding.

According to city manager Brenda Jensen, SkyWest plans to offer 12 weekly flights to Denver, just like Denver Air currently does. She says it’s possible the days and times of the flights could change. The flights will be branded as United Express and feature a 50-seat Bombardier CRJ aircraft.

SkyWest was formerly the EAS provider for Kearney and offered flights to both Denver and Chicago. The airline issued a termination of service letter to 31 cities, including Kearney, in 2022. Company officials cited a pilot shortage for forcing them to drop service in the middle of their contracts.

If approved by the DOT, the new contract with SkyWest would be for three years starting on Nov. 1. While it doesn’t include a Chicago flight, council members said they would communicate the desire to add that destination in the future.