Cape Air lands new routes

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Cape Air lands new routes

Unread post by bimjim » Wed Oct 06, 2010 ... Z/10060306

Cape Air lands new routes
By Sarah Shemkus
October 06, 2010

Maine, Missouri and a corner of the Caribbean are three areas in which Cape Air will be expanding its presence in coming months.

"It's part of our growth strategy, part of our strategic plan," said the airline's president, Dave Bushy.

The U.S. Department of Transportation last week selected the Hyannis-based airline to fly a federally subsidized route connecting Augusta, Maine, and Boston. For serving the route, Cape Air will receive an annual subsidy of $1.4 million from the federal Essential Air Service program, commonly known as EAS.

The new destination will be Cape Air's second connection between Maine and Boston, joining Rockland, and service will begin in early December, Bushy said.

The airline also will expand its Midwestern presence in mid-December, adding service between Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., and St. Louis. This route will generate a federal subsidy of $1.5 million.

Currently, Cape Air has routes connecting St. Louis to four cities in Missouri and Illinois.

Cape Air also will be launching another destination from its hub in San Juan, Puerto Rico. On Dec. 22, the airline will begin service between San Juan and the island of Anguilla. This route will not receive federal subsidies.

The airline is specifically pursuing both traditional and subsidized routes as part of its overall plan for expansion, Bushy said.

"It's a balanced strategy for growth," he said.

Currently, Cape Air receives $21.1 million in EAS subsidies for 15 routes, according to data available on the program's website. The only airline to receive more money from the program is Wyoming-based Great Lakes Airlines, which receives $62.7 million for serving 41 routes.

At the moment, however, some of the Cape Air's subsidized routes in New York are at risk. The airline now provides service between Albany and the upstate towns of Massena, Ogdensburg and Watertown. The original terms of its federal subsidies for those routes expired at the end of September, but the Transportation Department has not yet selected a carrier for the next two-year term.

"The service is continuing, the subsidy is continuing until we make a decision," said Bill Mosley, spokesman for the department. "There will be no break in service."

According to documents filed with the federal agency, officials in Ogdensburg would like to keep Cape Air service. Leaders in Massena and Watertown, however, have thrown their support behind competitor Gulfstream International Airlines, citing the airline's larger planes and proposal to fly directly to Boston.

Currently, Cape Air receives subsidies of $1.3 million for its service to Massena, $1.35 million for service to Ogdensburg and $1.2 million for its Watertown route.

Mosley declined to comment on why a decision has not yet been made, but said the selection would be announced "as soon as possible."

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