Here we go again…

By now, everyone can probably tell me exactly where Alpena, Michigan is on a map, right?

I know everyone at the DOT can!

So the results of the *4th* round of RFP’s is out, and I’m not sure how I feel.

Air Choice One put in another bid, and plans on getting Jetstreams.   The bid is based on using the Caravan, Navajo, and/or the J31.  Status quo as all the other bids, and I bet Air Choice One is exhausted as I believe this is their 3rd bid.  The DOT typically doesn’t go for bids using “future aircraft” and “future authorities” – its gotta be on the tarmac the day of the bid closing.  So I think ACO may get shut out once again.

An interesting move by Aerodynamics Airline (ADI), which appears to be a Part 135 charter operator with supplemental 121 authority (but I don’t see any scheduled authority filings) tied up with to offer DOT 380 flights in and out of Alpena.   I honestly didn’t pay much attention to this bid, as I doubt the community will even look at the bid considering their past communications about Air Choice One.  Yes they got something going in Muskegon, but that was with the community on board with alternate EAS.

SkyWest threw out an interesting bid of $3 million to fly *2* jet flights a day, bridging Minneapolis and Detroit via Alpena.  It seems the lobbying paid off as they have a Part 121 carrier with a codeshare, however I think this bid will get thrown out as it is way too high.  The Department previously did not accept Gulfstream/Silver’s bid of $3.2 million to offer 3 flights a day to Cleveland as United Express as it was “too high”, so I’m not sure supporting only 2 flights a day for $3 million will win this sucker.  SkyWest is using load factors of only 34%-40% – this goes back to my previous argument that EAS *has* to get right sized for these markets.   If Devany’s group awards this to SkyWest, I will be shocked.  No.  I’ll be disappointed.  Not only are they going against their OWN WORDS against Gulfstream, it will have appeared that the Department will have caved into the pressure of Congress (all while our national debt & deficit keep skyrocketing, check out my tally to the right).

From November 17, 2011 RFP:

We have decided to re-bid proposals for Alpena, Michigan. Intrepid’s proposal does not meet the statutory two-round-trip-per-day requirement, and we have serious concerns about the subsidy level requested by Gulfstream.

So, we had a $3.2 million bid from Gulfstream/Silver as “serious”… so lets see what they say about a $200k difference in subsidy.  If a $200,000 variation in subsidy is now defined as “serious” then I expect this to carry over to all other bids (tongue in cheek).  I’m fearful of this outcome and it will only increase my fears that government isn’t even following their own rules.

and to go further:

The community is concerned that the level of service proposed by Gulfstream is inferior to what Alpena currently receives. However, Gulfstream’s proposal meets the statutory provisions of 49 U.S.C. §41731 et seq, for providing basic EAS. Under those provisions, basic EAS for Alpena requires the following: (1) service to a large or medium hub with convenient air service to a substantial number of destinations; (2) 12 nonstop or one-stop round trips a week; and (3) twin-engine aircraft operated with two pilots. Moreover, Gulfstream’s proposed service meets the provisions of §41733 that set the criteria for the Department in selecting a carrier: demonstrated reliability in providing scheduled air service, contractual and marketing arrangements with a larger carrier to ensure service beyond the hub airport; interline arrangements with a larger carrier that allows for the passenger to travel with one ticket, one reservation, and one baggage check in.

Based on all of the above, we have decided that the best option is to re-solicit proposals on an expedited basis.


So going to 1 flight a day to 2 different hubs with not-very-optimal times isn’t “inferior” to what is operated now??

*sigh* lets see how this pans out.

(reference: OST 2009 0300)

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