Airline proposals for Cape still under review by transportation department

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The U.S. Department of Transportation still expects it will be able to announce a decision on which of two competitors for Cape Girardeau's commercial air passengers will be awarded a contract, a spokesman said this morning.

The proposals from Great Lakes Airlines of Cheyenne, Wyo., and Air Choice One of Farmington, Mo., are under review by department staff, said Bill Mosley, spokesman from the U.S. Department in Transportation, in a telephone interview from his office in Washington, D.C. The competing proposals offer choices in aircraft, subsidy levels and destinations.

Despite the emergency status of the contract process, the department probably won't insist that the winning airline set a target date for providing service, Mosley said.

Great Lakes and Air Choice One were the only bidders on an emergency contract offered when Big Sky Airlines announced in December that it would cease service in the Eastern U.S. The department is offering subsidies under the Essential Air Service program to the selected carrier.

"There is nothing specific, not any kind of blanket requirement" for starting service, Mosley said. "If we selected a carrier and it was a protracted time or it didn't seem like they were going to go within a reasonable time, we may put the contract out again," he said.

Cape Girardeau, Jackson, Tenn., and Owensboro, Ky., have all recommended that the department choose Great Lakes. Big Sky stopped flying from Cape Girardeau on Jan. 7, about six weeks after it started service. Prior to Big Sky's service, Cape Girardeau had no commercial passenger air service for more than eight months.

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