Airport board to hear four more proposals for local service

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The Cape Girardeau Airport Advisory Board will be busy this week as four airlines make their pitches for the city's commercial passenger business.

Gulfstream International Airlines, a Florida-based company expanding into other parts of the country, presented its case last week. The series of meetings begins at 11:30 a.m. today when Nate Vallier, general manager of Locair Inc. of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., visits with the board.

Vallier's company is offering a flexible schedule, proposing flights to Kansas City International Airport as well as promising to offer flights to Branson, Mo., and other locations.

On Wednesday, two companies will present their plans. At 5:15 p.m., Andrew Bonney of Cape Air of Hyannis, Mass., will talk about his company's plans to fly to St. Louis. Shane Storz, with Air Choice One of Farmington, Mo., will follow at 7:15 p.m. Air Choice One is offering service to St. Louis or a split between St. Louis and Memphis, Tenn.

Storz is bring a Cessna Caravan to demonstrate his company's aircraft.

The final meeting is 5:30 p.m. Thursday, when Rod McKinney of SeaPort Airlines of Portland, Ore., will show a Pilatus aircraft and answer questions about his company's bid to fly to Memphis.

All five companies want a federally subsidized Essential Air Service contract. The city must make a recommendation to the U.S. Department of Transportation by Sept. 26. Cape Girardeau's contract is being offered along with the service from Decatur, Ill., Quincy, Ill., Marion-Herrin, Ill., Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., and Burlington, Iowa. The transportation department is not bound by local recommendations and could split the individual city contracts between two or more competitors.

Airport manager Bruce Loy said two key questions will be whether the competitors have aircraft ready to fly a Cape Girardeau route as well as the timing of those flights.

"I think back to the Big Sky scenario," Loy said. "It took them eight months to acquire aircraft and train crews before that actually started. I am certainly hoping that is not the case here."

The timing of flights is important, Loy said, so travelers, especially those flying for business, don't have long waits.

rkeller@semissourian.com

388-3642

Pertinent Address:

Cape Girardeau Regional Airport, Cape Girardeau, Mo.

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