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Four of the EAS carriers in this update, TOP: Advanced Air and Boutique Air BOTTOM: Cape Air and American Airlines (Photos: AirlineGeeks | Joey Gerardi)

EAS Round Up – Part 3

Essential Air Service (EAS) has been in the news frequently the past couple of months, and large airports aren’t the only airports that have news to report on. This is a continuation of the series, titled ‘EAS Round up’, and will touch on any news regarding the contracts in the EAS airport community since the last EAS Round-Up which can be viewed HERE.

Whether it is a new airline being selected for a city, the current airline being re-selected to serve the community, or there are noticeable service changed to the current contract, they will be announced in this series.

Airports With Service Changes

The first two cities in this update haven’t actually received subsidies for a number of years; Joplin, Missouri and Sioux City. They do qualify for EAS subsidies but haven’t actually needed them due to a carrier offering to serve without the need of one.

But this all changed with the Coronavirus. In August of 2020, American Airlines announced they would discontinue service to 15 smaller cities around the country when the first round of CARE funding would run out; Oct. 2020.

Sioux City and Joplin were among the 15-cities to be discontinued, but the Department of Transportation, DOT, stepped in.

The DOT stated that it wouldn’t permit American Eagle to leave the cities until another carrier would step in or a date the DOT deemed it appropriate. So American put in it’s 90 day notice at both airports and an EAS proposal process began.

Sioux City, Iowa (SUX)

SkyWest under the United Express brand has been chosen as the EAS carrier for this Iowan city and will begin service on April 1, 2021 until the contract ends on March 31, 2024. The new service will offer 12-weekly round trip flights to two United hubs; Chicago O’Hare and Denver and all flights will operate on the carriers 50-seat CRJ-200.

The subsidy rate will be $1,479,891 for the first year, $880,418 for the second year, and $498,452 for the third year.

As the DOT isn’t allowing American to leave until the new service begins, they will be compensated with a subsidy of $2,045 per flight until April 1 when United starts it’s service.

United Express regional jets lined up at its Rocky Mountain hub (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Joey Gerardi)

Joplin, Missouri (JLN)

This Missourian city will feature the same carrier changes as previously mentioned Sioux City; United Express via SkyWest on a CRJ-200. Also flying 12-weekly flights to Chicago and Denver.

However, service with United to this city won’t begin until June 1, 2021, and will last three years until May 31, 2024. The subsidy rate will be $1,222,934 for the first year, $795,943 for the second year, and $498,452 for the third year.

Just like in Sioux City, the DOT isn’t allowing American to discontinue Joplin until the United service begins. American will be compensated with a subsidy of $1,237 per flight until June 1 when United starts its service.

Moab, Utah (CNY)

This small city in eastern Utah will be adding a new carrier and route, which doesn’t happen that often especially in times like this.

SkyWest was selected for the contract which will run from April 1, 2021, until June 30, 2023, at an annual subsidy rate of $2,974,268.

SkyWest isn’t a newcomer to the community as it has served there for many years under the United Express brand and offered non-stop flights to Denver. It is the new brand that will be visible at the airport that is the service change.

Beginning on April 1, 2021; in addition to the flights to Denver, Delta will begin nonstop flights to Salt Lake City which will also be operated by SkyWest. The best part, they will be provided at no additional annual subsidy.

Ms. Mary McGann, the chair of the Grand County Commission had this to say about the new service;

“This market has been pursued and requested by the local community for several years which will assist in economic development, business, government, and leisure travel to the capital of the State of Utah.”

Both flights to Salt Lake City and Denver will be flown on 50-seat CRJ-200’s.

West Yellowstone, Montana (WYS)

The community of West Yellowstone is one of the few airports to have such extremes in service depending on the season. For nearly seven months of the year, this airport has no air service at all, but from May until mid-October air service does exist.

The reason for this extreme seasonality is this; the airport is located only two miles from the west entrance of the Yellowstone National Park, but the entrance is closed during the off-season. So essentially when the park entrance closes, the air service stops.

Just like previously mentioned Moab, Utah, the carrier serving the community won’t be changing but the service offering will. Since at least May of 2019, SkyWest has served this community under the Delta Connection brand with flights to only Salt Lake City, but this coming season SkyWest will also be offering flights to Denver under the United Express brand.

SkyWest will offer seven-weekly flights during the shoulder seasons; May 6 – June 2 and Sept. 30 – Oct. 15. But during the peak season, June 3 through Sept. 29, there will be 14 weekly flights to the airport.

The annual subsidy rate will be $1,491,893 per year and will run from May 6 until the end of the 2023 summer tourist season.

Ogdensburg, New York (OGS)

The carrier to this community will not change and SkyWest will continue to serve here under the United Express brand, but the destinations offered will change.

Since 2019, SkyWest under the United brand has served this Northern New York community with nonstops to both Washington Dulles and Chicago O’Hare. Come April 1, 2021, that will no longer be the case.

They will be eliminating the Chicago O’Hare route and will instead serve only Washington Dulles with 12-weekly flights onboard the CRJ-200.

The contract will run from April 1, 2021, until March 31, 2024. The subsidy will be $4,998,862 for the first year, $4,716,635 for the second year, and $4,424,408 for the third year.

A United Express CRJ-200 in Ogdensburg, N.Y. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Joey Gerardi)

Jackson, Tennessee (MKL)

Boutique Air will be taking over the contract in this community from the current carrier, Air Choice One, on June 1, 2021, and will hold the contract until at least May 31, 2023.

The annual subsidy rate will be $1,985,941 for the first year and $2,025,659 for the second year.

The San Francisco-based airline will fly to the community using the 8-seat Pilatus PC-12 from both Atlanta and St. Louis. Flights to Atlanta will be 12-times a week and flights to St. Louis will be offered six times a week.

A Boutique Air Pilatus PC-12 at Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Joey Gerardi)

This will be yet another devastating blow to Air Choice One who has lost four EAS cities and six total destinations in the past eight months.

Air Choice One lost Ironwood, Mich. to Boutique last August, both Mason City and Fort Dodge, Iowa to SkyWest less than a month ago. They lost Minneapolis last month as it was part of the Iowa contracts, and will lose Atlanta come June as it’s part of this Jackson contract. This will leave Air Choice One with only four destinations left.

It is also an interesting point to note that Air Choice One and fellow Cessna 208 operator Southern Air Express petitioned to the DOT to get Boutique disqualified from the Jackson EAS proposal bidding. The claim by the two Cessna 208 operators is that Boutique’s bid did not meet the contract’s requirements for service to the Tennessee airport. The DOT acknowledges the joint motion by the carriers but denied the attempt.

Airports Re-selecting Carriers

Silver City, New Mexico (SVC)

Advanced Air has once again been chosen as the carrier that will serve the southwestern New Mexican city. The contract began on Feb. 1, 2021, and will continue until Jan. 31, 2023.

The carrier will offer non-stop service to Albuquerque, N.M. and Phoenix Sky Harbor. While those are the only nonstop routes from Silver City, they will offer one-stop service to Hawthorne, Calif. through Phoenix.

One of Advanced Airlines King Air 350s in Silver City, N.M. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Joey Gerardi)

All flights will be on the carriers King Air 350’s, at a subsidy rate of $4,466,656 for the first year and $4,600,656 for the second year.

Arkansas

The cities of El Dorado, Harrison, and Hot Springs are all located in Arkansas and have their EAS bidding process happen at the same time and will all receive pretty much the same service.

The following three communities in Arkansas have all re-selected Southern Air Express on board the carriers 8-seat Cessna 208 or Pilatus PC-12. The joint contract will begin on March 1, 2021 and will run until Feb. 28, 2023.

El Dorado (ELD) –

14-weekly to Dallas Ft. Worth and four-weekly to Memphis, Tenn.. Annual subsidy rate of $2,605,680 for the first year and $2,670,822 for the second year.

Harrison (HRO) –

18-weekly flights to only Dallas Ft. Worth, at an annual subsidy rate of $2,891,294 for the first year and $2,963,576 for the second year.

Hot Springs (HOT) –

14-weekly to Dallas Ft. Worth and four-weekly to Memphis, Tenn. The annual subsidy rate will be $2,719,768 for the first year and $2,787,762 for the second year.

The small but quaint terminal in Harrison, Ark. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Joey Gerardi)

Massena, New York (MSS)

Located in northern New York State not to far from fellow EAS community Ogdensburg, Massena has re-selected San Francisco-based Boutique Air for the contract.

The carrier will fly 21-weekly flights to Boston Logan and/or Baltimore-Washington (BWI) using one of many Pilatus PC-12 aircraft they have.

The contract will begin on April 1, 2021, and will continue until March 31, 2023, at an annual subsidy rate of $3,411,097 for the first year and $3,479,318 for the second year.

Grand Island, Nebraska (GRI)

This Nebraskan city has once again chosen American Airlines under the American Eagle brand to serve the community.

The contract will run from July 1, 2021, until June 30, 2023, at an annual subsidy rate of $1,016,713 for the first year and $462,392 for the second year.

American will offer 12-weekly flights to its Dallas Ft. Worth hub onboard the Embraer E145.

Mayaguez, Puerto Rico (MAZ)

Cape Air will be in it for the long haul in the United States island territory of Puerto Rico. The Massachusetts-based carrier has been flying to this small tropical community since 2016 and has secured yet another five-year contract.

Don’t expect to hear this city name for a long time, as the contract will run from May 1, 2021, all the way until April 30 in the year 2026. Five-year EAS contracts are a lot harder to find, but this community seems committed to the carrier as they operate a small hub on the island.

They will offer 28-weekly flights from Mayaguez to Luis Munoz Marin International Airport in the capital of San Juan.

The contract allows the carrier to choose any one of their three aircraft to serve the route with; the Cessna 402, the newly acquired Tecnam P2012, or the Britten Norman Islander which can be found predominantly flying in the carriers Caribbean route network.

The subsidy rate will be as follows;

First year – $1,693,289

Second year – $1,744,088

Third year – $1,796,411

Fourth year – $1,850,303

Fifth year – $1,905,812

Hays, Kansas

Hays has re-selected SkyWest, under the United Express brand, to serve the community with flights to Denver using the carriers CRJ-200 aircraft 12-times a week.

The contract will run three years from Aug. 1, 2021, until July 31, 2024, at an annual subsidy rate of $3,642,585.

Carlsbad, New Mexico (CNM)

This city is located in the eastern part of the state and has re-selected San Francisco-based Boutique Air for their contract.

The carrier will operate 12-weekly flights to Albuquerque, N.M., and six-weekly flights to Dallas Ft. Worth, with the contract running until May 31, 2025

One of Boutique Air’s Pilatus PC-12’s in Carlsbad, N.M. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Joey Gerardi)

The annual subsidy rate will be as follows;

First year $3,425,385

Second year $3,493,893

Third year $4,563,771

Fourth year $3,635,046

Although it’s not part of the EAS contract, the carrier recently started flights from Carlsbad to nearby Texan city El Paso.

Author

  • Joe has always been interested in planes, for as long as he can remember. He grew up in Central New York during the early 2000s when US Airways Express turboprops ruled the skies. Being from a non-aviation family made it harder for him to be around planes and would only spend about three hours a month at the airport. He was so excited when he could drive by himself and the first thing he did with the license was get ice cream and go plane spotting for the entire day. When he has the time (and money) he likes to take spotting trips to any location worth a visit. He’s currently enrolled at Western Michigan University earning a degree in Aviation Management and Operations.

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