Laura Seitz, Deseret News
SkyWest at the Salt Lake City International Airport has announced it is cutting its workforce by 170 positions from the ground handling crew.

ST. GEORGE — Regional airline SkyWest Inc. said Wednesday that it expects to post a sizeable fourth-quarter loss because of aircraft maintenance issues and other unexpected costs.

The stock fell nearly 5 percent in morning trading.

The airline, which flies for US Airways, United and Delta, predicts a quarterly loss of $17 million to $18.5 million, or 34 cents to 37 cents per share for the three months ending Dec. 31.

Analysts had expected the airline to post a loss of a penny per share, according to a FactSet survey.

SkyWest said the loss is due to a few main factors: higher maintenance, pilot-training and crew costs. Altogether, SkyWest thinks these added costs will hit net income by about $12 million. SkyWest is also bracing for bigger-than-expected losses from two international regional airlines it owns. Those losses are expected to be $5.5 million more than it originally predicted.

The maintenance expenses stem from aging aircraft issues, timing and cost of airframe inspections and engine overhauls. The pilot-training and crew costs are in part due to the company's new contract with US Airways. SkyWest started flying under the US Airways Express banner in December.

SkyWest, based in St. George, said the forecasts are preliminary and could change prior to when it reports official fourth-quarter results in mid-February.

Its shares fell 63 cents, or 4.6 percent, to $13.13 in morning trading.