county aims to bring flights from Philadelphia to Plattsburgh airport | News, Sports, Jobs
PLATTSBURGH — Instead of backing Cape Air’s bid to offer flights to Boston again through the Essential Air Service program, the Clinton County Legislature intends to craft a grant proposal that could go through to an air service from Plattsburgh International Airport to Philadelphia via Contour Airlines.
Airport manager Chris Kreig confirmed Philadelphia was the intended destination, but stressed that plans were still being finalized.
“The goal is for uninterrupted service to ensure a transition from SkyWest to Contour,” he told the Republican Press.
End of Skywest
Plattsburgh International’s current EAS carrier, SkyWest (doing business as United Express), has been offering round-trip flights on 50-passenger jets to Dulles International Airport near Washington, D.C., since August 2018, a service which was renewed in 2020 with the support of county management.
But, citing pandemic-related staffing issues, SkyWest in January announced plans to end service in the Plattsburgh market and several others. The U.S. Department of Transportation later issued a restraint order that requires the airline to continue service to Plattsburgh International until a replacement EAS carrier can begin.
That prompted the airport and county to contact several airlines to gauge interest, including Contour Airlines, the regional airline brand of Tennessee-based Contour Aviation, according to its website.
County Legislative Speaker Mark Henry (R-Area 3, Chazy and Beekmantown) included the county’s plans to develop a grant proposal in conjunction with Contour in a letter to Department Manager Kevin Schlemmer essential and domestic airlines from the DOT Office of Aviation Analysis. Analysis Division, which was posted on the Plattsburgh International filing on regulation.gov on Tuesday.
Flaws of the Boston Proposal
Henry also explained why the only proposal for the latest round of EAS funding — a plan submitted by Hyannis Air Service, doing business as Cape Air, for 21 weekly roundtrip flights to Boston on a nine-passenger plane — would be inadequate for the local community. Cape Air previously offered Boston service to the airport from 2008 to 2010.
He noted the community’s great respect for Cape Air, its management team and its way of doing business, describing it as an operationally strong airline.
“However, the proposal has several flaws that the community cannot ignore.”
The president maintained that Cape Air’s offer would not be “provide sufficient capacity to accommodate historical traffic levels…” as stated in the EAS RFP.
The service would reduce the airport’s annual EAS capacity by 72% to 17,472, he said.
According to DOT data, Henry continued, SkyWest flew 36,889 passengers to and from Plattsburgh International in calendar year 2019, with an expected rebound in passengers post-pandemic.
“Cape Air’s proposal does not provide enough seats to carry Plattsburgh passengers,” he wrote. “In fact, Plattsburgh’s current EAS service generates 111% more passengers than the Cape Air seats available under its proposition.”
Bad voter service
Henry went on to point out that in August 2021 – the start of the delta wave of the pandemic – SkyWest carried 2,608 passengers to and from the airport over 60 segments, with an average load factor of 88%, which would exceed the number of seats available Cape Air would operate in August, even with the possibility of adding a fourth daily flight during the summer.
Referring to an analysis of Cape Air’s network during the July peak period, the president wrote that before and during the pandemic, the airline’s average load factors in all its markets were below SkyWest’s performance at Plattsburgh Airport.
“Despite the great respect Clinton County has for Cape Air, if the county were to select the Cape Air proposal, it would be doing its constituents a disservice,” Henry continued.
“The proposal would make access to domestic air travel much more difficult for all of New York. This would force many more passengers to travel to distant airports for air service. And it would harm the economic development of the community.
Cape Air did not return a request for comment on the letter.
American Airlines Affiliate
Henry concluded the letter with the county’s intent to apply to enter the Alternative Essential Air Service (AEAS) program, an initiative “designed to allow communities to forfeit their SAE for a prescribed amount of time in exchange for receiving a grant to spend in a variety of ways that might best meet their individual needs”, according to a DOT notice.
Henry said the county was in talks with Contour Airlines to develop an AEAS proposal that would require 12 round trips per week on 30-passenger planes. The request would be submitted within 15 working days of submitting the letter, dated February 25, he added.
Robert, Chairman of the Legislature Airport Committee “Policeman” Hall (D-Area 10, City of Plattsburgh), who first told the Press-Republican that Philadelphia was the hoped-for destination, said Contour’s appeal lies in its affiliation with American Airlines.
He described Washington’s and Philadelphia’s options as identical.
“It’s a destination where you have a big carrier on the other end that you can book directly, and you can go anywhere in the United States, which we never had with Boston,” said Hall.
Hall thinks the flight to Washington opened everyone’s eyes to the potential of Plattsburgh International, including the DOT.
“I saw days a few years ago where every day that flight to Boston was empty, empty, empty,” he said. “And then we had that flight to Washington, and we were 80% full.
“I mean, I think they’ve realized that we have the ability to fill an airline, to go somewhere where they can connect to anywhere in the United States, and we’ve proven that. .”
Hall acknowledged that a few city residents would like to see Boston flights return, but said the service did not meet the needs of the majority of Plattsburgh residents.
Indeed, community comments posted on regulation.gov included comments from some proponents of the Cape Air proposal, with a few noting medical appointments they have in Boston. But they outnumbered opponents of the Boston service, with most also advocating for keeping flights to the DC area.
“Good Things” Ahead
Although there are no guarantees, the county hopes to commission Philadelphia as early as April, Hall said. That depends on DOT approval, Kreig noted.
“We try to provide the best service to the North Country. We think this is another opportunity to continue what we had.
The county is exploring options for other destinations, particularly the Caribbean and Europe, Hall said, adding that he believes this will happen due to the presence of U.S. Customs and Border Protection in the country. airport.
“Now that COVID is clearing up and we have other options, I think good things are going to happen at our airport.
“I think there will be new flights in the near future.”