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SkyWest memo converted to pact that will double fleet

ST. GEORGE — SkyWest Airlines and United Airlines have signed an 11-year contract for SkyWest that will more than double SkyWest's regional jet fleet over the next five years.

United, in bankruptcy proceedings, signed a memorandum of understanding with SkyWest in May. That has been converted to a definite agreement approved by the SkyWest board of directors, United and the U.S. Bankruptcy Court.

St. George-based SkyWest will operate 140 aircraft, including 55 turbo-prop aircraft, currently serving the United Express fleet, 55 50-seat regional jet aircraft that are scheduled to be in service by the end of 2003, and 30 70-seat regional jets that are scheduled to be serving United Express routes by summer 2005.

Delivery of the new 70-seat jets is scheduled to begin in January.

The agreement also includes options for a mix of regional jets, but that will be determined by United later.

SkyWest operates more than 670 daily flights to 63 cities as United Express. The contract will provide SkyWest with new access to United's Chicago hub as well as expanded service in the Denver market.

SkyWest operates as United Express, Continental Connection and Delta Connection carriers, serving 103 cities in 28 states and two Canadian provinces.