SIOUX FALLS -- You might think you’re getting on Delta or United when you board a jetliner in Pierre or even Sioux Falls but you probably aren’t, according to Roger Cohen, president of the Washington D.C.-based Regional Airline Association.

“Frankly, across all of South Dakota, it’s virtually all of the service,”Cohen said. “To get to Minneapolis, to get to Denver, Chicago, all those flights are on regional airlines. So that’s who our member airlines are.”

Cohen said while in the past, economic issues were the biggest concern for keeping regional airlines, other issues have developed. Pilots are a particular problem.

“By the first time by what I would call non-market or non-economic forces, because what the entire airline industry is going through and its going to start cascading tremendously is a shortage of pilots,” Cohen said. “And that’s the one thing you absolutely have to have to fly an airplane.”

He said pilot retirements, the increased hours new pilots have to fly before they can apply at a regional and new federal rest requirements are making it difficult for some airlines to operate.

Also, Cohen says a community needs two vital things now—a good Internet connection and regularly scheduled airline service. Take one away and a community can’t develop, according to Cohen.

Cohen was in Sioux Falls Thursday on behalf of the South Dakota Chamber and Economic Development Council. He was interviewed on KSOO-AM’s Viewpoint University call-in program.

Click here to listen to Rick Knobe's full interview with Roger Cohen about air service in South Dakota.