MASSENA — Massena Town Council members will meet next week to discuss their preference after hearing presentations from three airlines vying to become the town’s Essential Air Service provider.
Boutique Air, Cape Air and Southern Airways Express presented their qualifications to the board Monday during a special meeting.
Boutique Air currently serves as the town’s Essential Air Service provider, Cape Air had served the town for eight years prior to Boutique Air winning the contract, and Southern Airways Express is the newcomer to the mix.
“We know this is a privilege. We feel it’s a privilege to have provided the service to you for the last couple of years. We appreciate the opportunity to rebid on the business. We want to continue to prove to you that we’re an excellent partner,” Boutique Air Vice President of Business Development Tom Warren said.
He said one of the key goals in Massena was to add Baltimore-Washington International Airport to drive the demand for air service. Boutique Air currently provides three daily round-trip flights to Boston Logan International Airport.
“We’re now flying to Virginia Beach and the Norfolk airport from Baltimore. You can actually hop on a plane in Massena and in a half-day find yourself on a beach in Virginia Beach,” Mr. Warren said.
Boutique Air officials recently announced passengers connecting from the Massena International Airport to Boston now have direct flight options to and from Florida, specifically Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, Fort Myers and Tampa on United Airlines.
“We know it’s important to keep Boston for the sake of the Florida connections,” he said.
Boutique Air has also bid to provide service in Ogdensburg, but Mr. Warren said it was a separate bid from Massena. That means the U.S. Department of Transportation could award the EAS contract in Massena to Boutique Air even if Ogdensburg selected another airline.
“We want to focus on Massena because you’re the contract we have,” he said.
“This is really an update for Cape Air because we’ve had the benefit of knowing each other for a number of years while Cape Air served Massena from 2008 through part of 2017. We’re delighted to talk to you again because there have been some terrific strides made by the company that will hopefully enhance service for Massena,” Cape Air Vice President of Planning Andrew Bonney said.
Cape Air has included Massena and Ogdensburg in the same bid package. Under their proposal for both communities, travelers would have three daily round-trip flights to Albany International Airport. From there, two flights would continue to Boston-Logan International Airport and back, while the third would travel to John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City. Both flights to Boston and New York City would arrive in the JetBlue Airways terminal.
“We think this would be absolutely terrific service for the north country. When we put together our proposal, we were really looking at how we could be as useful as possible to the Massena traveler,” he said.
He said they have interline agreements with JetBlue Airways, Delta Airlines, American Airlines, Alaska Airlines, United, Condor, Hawaiian Airlines and Qatar Airways.
“One of the key things in Cape Air’s proposal is we interline with 71 percent of the airline seats at Boston Logan, including those on JetBlue and Delta, the two largest airlines at Boston, providing options, convenience and competition for Massena travelers,” Mr. Bonney said.
Southern Airways Express
Chairman and CEO Stan Little said he started Southern Airways Express when they began to see consolidation of major airlines and smaller communities losing service. The airline is going into its eighth year.
“As we’ve gotten bigger and bigger and bigger, we’ve also gotten better and better,” he said.
The airline has about 35 aircraft and about 200 pilots and is spread from Boston in the east to Honolulu, Hawaii, in the west.
“Massena provides a real opportunity for us. Massena really fits well into what we are doing,” Mr. Little said.
Their proposal, which is not linked with Ogdensburg, includes six options — 21 weekly round-trip flights to Boston on a C-208; 17 weekly round-trip flights to Boston and four to Albany on a C-208; 21 weekly round-trip flights to Boston on a PC-12; 17 weekly round-trip flights to Boston and four to Albany on a PC-12; 14 weekly round-trip flights to Boston and seven to New York City on a PC-12; and 14 weekly round-trip flights to Boston and seven to Dulles International Airport in Virginia.
“Southern will work with airport officials to create the best time-of-day coverage for the marketplace once the service pattern is selected,” Mr. Little said.
He said, if Southern Airways Express was selected, pilots would live in Massena to avoid any potential flight cancellations if pilots weren’t available, and Massena would serve as a maintenance base, which he said would provide a constant flow of aircraft.
“You won’t have just one aircraft that is a Massena aircraft. Depending on the route and plane you choose, you could see a dozen,” Mr. Little said.
The Massena Town Council is scheduled to meet Tuesday at a time to be determined to make their recommendation to the U.S. Department of Transportation. The meeting will be streamed live on the town’s Facebook page.