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Third airline seeks Lake Clear subsidy

November 18, 2009
By CHRIS KNIGHT, Enterprise Senior Staff Writer

SARANAC LAKE - A third airline is seeking a federal subsidy to provide commercial passenger service at the Adirondack Regional Airport in Lake Clear.

Hyannis, Mass.-based Cape Air, the airport's current carrier, and Virginia-based Colgan Air Inc. were believed to be the only companies to respond to a request for proposals from the U.S. Department of Transportation by an Oct. 29 deadline. But a third airline is also interested and, due to a misunderstanding, was not included as a bidder in a Nov. 5 letter sent to the town of Harrietstown, which runs the airport.

Charter Air Transport, based in Cleveland, Ohio, has proposed nine different service options using either 19- or 30-seat planes. The company says it can provide 12 weekly round-trip flights from Saranac Lake and Plattsburgh to either Logan International Airport in Boston or John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City.

Charter Air is asking for an annual federal subsidy of between $2.9 million and $5.6 million, depending on the option, to serve both Saranac Lake and Plattsburgh. It describes itself as an "air taxi operation" and does not name any larger airline affiliate in its proposal.

Cape Air has proposed three daily, round-trip flights to Boston from Saranac Lake and Plattsburgh using nine-seat aircraft. The airline is seeking an annual subsidy of $2.7 million for a two-year contract or $2.6 million annually under a four-year contract.

Colgan Air, which flies as a U.S. Airways Express affiliate, is requesting a two-year subsidy of $3.2 million for year one and $3.1 million in year two. Saranac Lake and Plattsburgh would receive 19 round-trip flights each week to Boston in 34-seat planes.

The U.S. DOT is accepting public comments on the proposals until Dec. 4. The agency is expected to decide which airline will receive the subsidy sometime in January.

Harrietstown Supervisor Larry Miller, in an e-mail, said the town is satisfied with Cape Air and will be writing to U.S. DOT in support of the airline's proposal. He said they've also received letters supporting Cape Air from the towns of Tupper Lake and Santa Clara, the village of Saranac Lake, Franklin County, the chambers of commerce in Saranac Lake and Tupper Lake, and several area residents.

Miller noted that Cape Air was the only company to meet with the community and airport management.

"The other two airlines made no attempt to do so," he wrote. "Cape Air has lived up to their commitment to the community by currently providing reliable on-time flying performance, low user fees, completion of flights and targeted ridership growth."

Cape Air also provides commercial passenger service between Albany and the Ogdensburg, Massena and Watertown airports.

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Contact Chris Knight at 891-2600 ext. 24 or cknight@adirondackdailyenterprise.com.

 
 

 

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