Sorry for the lapse in posts… its just been an interesting few weeks at work and at home. I’ve decided I need to follow a normal posting schedule, so for now on I’ll post on every Tuesday & Fridays moving forward.
There’s been some movements in EAS, and I really can’t stress enough to PLEASE e-mail your congressmen to keep this program…. The movements all cost a bit more money than originally expected so EAS will probably require at least $15 to $20 million in additional funding moving forward. With our deficit growing to massive levels compared to our GDP, there are going to be some serious cuts and I doubt there’s enough congressional creativity to make efficient changes to the EAS program… so we’ll be hearing calls to dismantle EAS once again (rather than fix it)….
Vernal & Moab, Utah – DOT reselected Great Lakes for a 2 year term. Great Lakes proposes status quo into Denver, and I think Moab will probably see a link down to Phoenix or Vegas to link the networks. Vernal will see a subsidy of $1.299 million a year, and Moab will see $1.816 million a year.
PenAir of Alaska is sniffing around the EAS program and looking at the Maine markets of Presque Isle and Bar Harbor. PenAir has a number of interline e-ticket agreements and I sense that USAirways and/or Delta are about to become friends with PenAir should Danny Seybert’s group grow outside of Alaska.
Kalaupapa is back in the news. Pacific Wings is not happy that the DOT put the market out for bid and selected Makani Kai to fly the market. For once, this letter is written by an attorney and not Greg Khalstorf, the vocal president. Something tells me that Greg is laying low after the Tennessee pull down (Pacific Wings is withdrawing from Jackson & Owensboro, KY – and Nashville). Pacific Wings points out the 36% profit margin allowed by the DOT (which I even mentioned in a previous post it should have only been 5%) and defends its turf. The problem here is that Pacific Wings dug their own grave here… just do a google search for Pacific Wings and Kahului, Hana, Kamuela, or Kalaupapa.. it hasn’t been all rosy. So much drama over 135 ops!! I swear I could make a few bucks by writing a book on EAS…. Pan Am’s writers could probably have made more money by writing about Pacific Wings…
In a very unusual twist, DOT awarded Burlington Iowa and Decatur, Illinois to Air Choice One, despite Cape Air having a significantly lower bid. Air Choice One proposed status-quo with 2 flights to O’Hare and 2 to St. Louis for both markets for $1.9 million for Burlington and $2.7 million for Decatur. OUCH. Cape Air was only $1.3 million for Burlington and $1.5 million for Decatur. Decatur is “sorta” my home town (grew up in a town just southeast of there) and it is only 35-40 minute drive to Springfield, Bloomington, and Champaign. It is also home to ADM, a Fortune 50 company, and one of the nation’s largest exporters. Illinois has always been a very controversial and interesting EAS state, especially since a handful of the former TWA St. Louis markets get more flights than other markets of similar size.
Jackson, Tennessee gets to breathe, at least for a year, as SeaPort was selected to fly twice a day to Nashville and once a day to Memphis for $1.15 million a year. I guess this means the Caravan won’t be heading back up to Alaska for the busy summer season. I suspect that SeaPort will be using a gate in the concourse at Nashville as the airline has an approved security program, and its baggage agreement with USAirways will help. Pacific Wings claims it was never able to secure gate space at Nashville by saying “barriers to access continue to impede and frustrate our service delivery efforts”… those are very controlled words. In my experience, when I hear that, it simply means “we didn’t want to pay for the proper access”… meaning higher insurance limits on aircraft and higher turn costs to operate out of a terminal. In Pacific Wings defense, it does add about $150 more per flight to operate in and out of the terminal, but when you are flying only 1 person per flight, then I can see why you wouldn’t want that extra expense.
In a surprising move, SeaPort withdrew its bid for Jonesboro, Arkansas in the middle of a fleet reshuffle and that paved the way for Air Choice One to get the market – ACO will provide 3 flights a day to St. Louis for $1.56 million. Jonesboro, like Jackson, is under 100 miles to Memphis and is always near the EAS chopping block. Unfortunately for JBR, many of the communities travelers are used to driving, and SeaPort probably couldn’t even get boardings up if they gave away seats. I don’t think St. Louis will do a lot better, but it is a historical route for the city and there’s probably some local traffic there, but the vast majority of travelers will continue to drive to Memphis.