Three airlines bid on McCook service
McCOOK, Neb. -- Three airlines are vying for essential air service at McCook Ben Nelson Regional Airport beginning in 2016. The Airport Advisory Board is scheduled to meet Monday to review proposals received from Boutique Air, Aerodynamics Inc. and Great Lakes Aviation, the first step in forming the board's recommendation to City Council.
All three airlines are proposing two-round trip daily flights to Denver, Colorado, with fares less than $100 one-way.
Boutique Air of San Francisco, California, has been in operation since 2007 and started out flying surveillance missions for the U.S. Forestry Service and Bureau of Land Management. The airline later evolved into a charter air service provider with its Pilatus and Cessna fleet of aircraft and expanded further into commuter operations in 2014, according to the company's EAS proposal.
Boutique employs a fleet of Pilatus PC-12 aircraft, touting 8-passenger executive or 9-passenger commuter configuration. The airline has been awarded 14 essential air service contracts in the past two years, including air service to Denver, Colorado, from Alliance and Chadron, Nebraska.
The Boutique proposal touts the airlines 98 percent flight completion rate at Clovis, New Mexico, since July of 2014, as well as 100 percent completion rate at both Alliance and Chadron airports since July of 2015.
The airline's EAS proposal includes graphs illustrating Boutiques ability to more than double the historical passenger traffic at New Mexico airports in Silver City and Clovis, when compared to previous air service provider Great Lakes Aviation. The data shows Boutique boarded nearly quadruple the passenger traffic previously provided by Great Lakes at the Chadron airport and nearly double the passenger traffic Pacific Wings boarded at the Carlsbad, New Mexico, airport.
Boutique is proposing an average fare of $75 and would begin service 60-90 days after selection as the EAS carrier for McCook. The airline's proposal projects 3539 passengers annually, with a requested annual subsidy of $2,373,939 and 5% profit element of $125,684.
Aerodynamics Inc. of Kennesaw, Georgia, submitted an EAS proposal contingent on the airline also being awarded an EAS contract for service to Salina, Kansas. ADI would fly Embraer 145 regional jets which accommodate 50 passengers. The jets feature stand-up headroom, a flight attendant and onboard lavatory, according to the proposal.
The airline touts its long history of providing safe and reliable transportation and said schedule reliability would be key to reinvigorating traffic at the McCook airport. ADI has served the airline industry for 55 years without incident or accident, according to the proposal.
ADI served as the corporate airline for Intel from 2004 to 2013 and for DOW chemicals from 2002 to 2011, among other customers touted in the proposal.
ADI is proposing a one-way introductory fare of $59 during the first 30-days of service and an average fare of $99 afterwards. The airline's proposal projects 4670 passengers annually, with a requested annual subsidy of $4,666,757 and 5% profit element of $241,183.
Great Lakes Aviation of Cheyenne, Wyoming, is the current commercial air service provider at Ben Nelson Regional Airport. Great Lakes plans to fly twin-engine Beechcraft 1900D aircraft, manned by two pilots. The aircraft would be utilized with nine seat and 19 seat configurations.
The Great Lakes proposal reiterated the impact of changes to the FAA pilot qualification rules which created an industry-wide pilot shortage and "had an acute impact on Great Lakes."
The proposal also cites Great Lakes belief that changes in pilot qualification rules have adversely affected small community air service and averting these outcomes and revitalizing small community air service, "will require regulatory relief."
Great Lakes is proposing an average fare of $62 or $59. The airline's proposal projects 2100 passengers annually, with a requested annual subsidy of $2,242,407 and 5% profit element of $113,030.
Great Lakes submitted a five page proposal to the Department of Transportation vying for McCook EAS service, compared to a 19 page Aerodynamics proposal and 16 page proposal from Boutique Air.
Requested subsidy per passenger
Boutique Air: $670
Aerodynamics Inc: $999
Great Lakes Aviation (9 seat configuration): $1067