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Franklin County votes to support Cape Air

December 18, 2009
By JESSICA COLLIER, Enterprise Staff Writer

SARANAC LAKE - The Franklin County Legislature voted Thursday to support the U.S. Department of Transportation doing whatever needs to be done to keep Cape Air at the Adirondack Regional Airport in Lake Clear.

Local officials in Plattsburgh and the Tri-Lakes area have divided over which airline should get a lucrative federal subsidy to provide service at their airports.

The town of Harrietstown, which owns and runs the Lake Clear airport, is backing Cape Air, the current carrier at both airports. So is the town of Tupper Lake, and Essex County is leaning that way. Cape Air flies passengers to and from Boston using nine-seat planes, charging between $50 and $100 each way.

But most Clinton County legislators are backing a proposal from Colgan Air to serve Boston using larger, 34-seat planes. County leaders have said the larger planes would be better suited to the Plattsburgh airport. The average one-way ticket is expected to cost $100.

Franklin County legislators Tim Burpoe, D-Saranac Lake, and Paul Maroun, R-Tupper Lake, submitted a resolution to support either splitting the contract, which the U.S. DOT has said is a possibility, or divesting the contract and rebidding it out, Maroun said.

Maroun said it would not make sense for Colgan Air to fly into Lake Clear.

"(Cape Air is) smaller," Maroun said. "It fits our needs better. ... The big plane wouldn't really make it here. We've tried it several times. There just isn't enough usage now."

He said he remembers when larger planes flew into Saranac Lake and only three or four people would get off.

But Plattsburgh - where people are coming from Montreal since the airfares can be cheaper and there is free parking - has a need for larger planes.

"For them, Colgan is a better fit," Maroun said.

According to Maroun, word is that the federal DOT is close to making a decision, so Franklin County officials want to make sure Cape Air has enough of a show of support.



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