Deadline for Cape Girardeau air service bids extended

Friday, August 14, 2009

The deadline for submitting proposals to provide taxpayer subsidized commercial passenger service at Cape Girardeau Regional Airport has been extended to Monday, a U.S. Department of Transportation spokesman said Thursday.

The original deadline was Wednesday. The extension was granted, transportation department spokesman Bill Mosley said, because Aviation Technologies, Inc., combined with Charter Air Transport, requested an extension.

While Aviation Technologies plans to submit a proposal to serve Decatur, Ill., only, the department granted an extension for all six cities, he said.

"We decided to grant the extension (three business days) so that we could receive the greatest number of proposals to choose from," Mosley said in an e-mail to the Southeast Missourian. "We also granted it for all six communities involved, because proposals for service at all six communities were originally due on the same date and it would be awkward, if unfair, to break out only one community at this late stage."

Along with Cape Girardeau's service and that of Decatur, proposals are due for Burlington, Iowa, Marion-Herrin, Ill., Quincy, Ill., and Fort Leonard Wood, Mo. Airlines may bid on any single city, combination of cities or the entire group.

The transportation department will consider proposals from airlines that want to operate from Cape Girardeau under the Essential Air Service program, which provides subsidies for carriers willing to serve smaller cities.

The current contract is held by Great Lakes Airlines, headquartered in Cheyenne, Wyo. Great Lakes took over the contract in February 2008 through an emergency bidding process after Big Sky Airlines shut its doors in the face of rising fuel costs and other financial issues.

Great Lakes was promised a subsidy of almost $1.5 million annually if it made three flights daily from Cape Girardeau to St. Louis. But the airline has never flown more than two flights from Cape Girardeau on any day since it began operating last June. In the first seven months of this year, 404 passengers boarded flights at the airport. In 2006, the last full year with RegionsAir, almost 8,000 people originated their trips in Cape Girardeau.

rkeller@semissourian.com

388-3642

Proposals for commercial passenger service out of Cape Girardeau Regional Airport are due Wednesday with the U.S. Department of Transportation. What city would be the best choice as a destination for area passengers?

 St. Louis
 Memphis
 Chicago
 Cincinnati
 Other

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