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Four of the EAS carriers in this update, TOP: Denver Air Connection and Contour BOTTOM: Delta Connection operated by SkyWest and Alaska Airlines (Photos: AirlineGeeks | Joey Gerardi)

EAS Round Up – Part 5

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 services changed to the current contract, they will be announced in this series.

Airports With Service Changes

Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri (TBN)

This small city located in south-central Missouri was one of the few cities that was part of the ‘Alternate Essential Air Service’ Program, or ‘AEAS’. The AEAS program is nearly identical to the EAS program except for one major detail, the communities have a much larger say in what airline serves the community. The airline also has more freedom in which aircraft will operate to their city. This community will be re-entering the EAS program coming from the nearly identical AEAS program.

In the AEAS program, this Missourian city received service to St. Louis with Contour Air on board the carriers Embraer E135. With the re-entry into the EAS program, the airport will be receiving 50-seat CRJ-200’s operated by SkyWest under the United Express brand.

Flights will operate 12-times weekly in each direction from Leonard Wood to the United Airlines hub at Chicago O’Hare. The contract began on Oct.1, 2021, and will run for three years until Sept.30, 2024, at an annual subsidy rate of $3,467,553.

Butte, Montana (BTM)

Located in western Montana, Butte is another on the slowly growing list of EAS communities that will have two airline brands operating to its airport.

Before now, the airport has only recently received SkyWest-operated service under the Delta Connection banner to Salt Lake City. When the new contract begins on Jan. 1, 2022, SkyWest will continue to hold the EAS contract here, but instead of only twice-daily flights to Salt Lake City, they will have once-daily flights to Salt Lake City and also once-daily flights to Denver under the United Express brand.

All flights, both to Salt Lake City and Denver, will be operated on 50-seat CRJ-200’s and will operate 13-times a week between the two, assumably being split up almost evenly between the two cities. The contract will run from Jan. 2022 for two years until Dec.31, 2024, at an annual subsidy rate of $997,186.

A Delta Connection CRJ-200 in Butte, Mont. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Joey Gerardi)

The upside of having a regional carrier that operates on behalf of multiple major carriers is the ability to split services between different hubs and brands. As time goes on, it wouldn’t be surprising to see more of this happening around the country.

Greenville, Mississippi (GLH)

Where Fort Leonard Wood went from AEAS to EAS, the community of Greenville will be going from EAS to AEAS. The Airport previously had San Francisco-based Boutique Air flying King Air 350’s and PC-12’s to Dallas Ft. Worth and Atlanta, then moved to Nashville, but that carrier ended services when their contract ended on the 30th of Sep.2021.

Contour Air was awarded the AEAS contract that began on Oct.1, 2021, and will continue through Sept.30, 2025, with flights operating to both Dallas Ft. Worth and Nashville with all flights scheduled to operate using the carriers 30-seat Embraer E135 jets. The Department of Transportation will provide up to $12,181,884 total for the entire 4-year period of the contract.

Ironwood, Michigan (IWD)

The community has been through a lot in the past twelve months, with two incidents with the previous EAS contract holder followed by the re-bidding of the contract more than a year before its intended end.

Located on the far western edge of Michigan’s Upper Penninsula, the community has chosen Denver Air connection who will operate flights to both Chicago O’Hare and Minneapolis St. Paul. The flights to Minneapolis will operate on the 30-seat Dornier 328 Jet and flights to Chicago will operate using 50-seat Embraer E145 jets.

The annual subsidy will be $3,398,947 for the first year and $3,466,926 for the second year until Sept.30, 2023. If you’d like to learn more about this specific re-bidding process you can find that HERE.

Merced, California (MCE)

One of only three EAS cities in the state, Merced will be receiving a new airline come the first of the new year. Hawthorne, Calif.-based Advanced Air will be taking over the contract which begins on Jan.1, 2022, and will run until Dec.31, 2025. This will only be Advanced Air’s second EAS contract, the other being Silver City, N.M. although it is only their second EAS city, they do serve a number of other cities throughout the Southwestern United States.

Flights will operate to both LAX and Las Vegas on board 9-seat Pilatus PC-12’s. The annual subsidy rate will be $3,552,016 for the first year, $3,658,576 for the second year, $3,768,333 for the third year, and $3,881,383. To read more in-depth about this particular contract, click HERE.

 

Airports Re-Selecting Current Carrier

Adak, Alaska (ADK)

The EAS round-up usually doesn’t go over changes with the EAS contracts in the state of Alaska, there are over 60 in this state alone and it is very difficult to keep track of all of the small Alaska-based airlines. But this city is definitely worth a mention.

Adak Island hosts the longest flight of any EAS or AEAS city in the entire country, the flight sits at nearly 1,200-miles and operates from Ted Stevens International Airport in Anchorage, Alaska. This EAS route is only flown twice and is scheduled to operate on Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 aircraft as well as other flights using a Boeing 737-700 freighters. This airport only sees two passenger flights a week total, that’s it, no other scheduled flights. They even fly in TSA Agents to work the checkpoint for the flight, and they leave with the flight.

Alaska Airlines was re-selected for the contract, it began on Oct.1, 2021, and will run two years until Sept.20, 2023. The passenger and freighter flights will have a combined subsidy of $2,309,263 for the first year and $1,785,586 for the second year.

Cedar City, Utah (CDC)

Utah-based SkyWest has been selected for the contract in this small community located in the southwestern corner of the airline’s home state, Utah. The contract is for 12-weekly round trip flights to Delta’s Salt Lake City hub under the Delta Connection brand with the contract running from Jan.1, 2022, until Dec.31, 2024. All flights will operate on a 50-seat CRJ-200 at an annual subsidy rate of $2,564,371 for each of the three years.

Clarksburg, West Virginia

SkyWest will continue to hold the EAS contract in this West Virginian city, flights will operate under the United Express banner. Flights will operate 12-weekly round trips to a combination of both Washington Dulles and Chicago O’Hare onboard 50-seat CRJ-200’s.

The contract will begin on Nov.1, 2021, and will run until Oct.31, 2024, at an annual subsidy rate of $2,998,996 per year. Despite being a relatively small state, West Virginia is a host to five EAS cities including Clarksburg.

Rutland, Vermont (RUT)

This small community located in Vermont has re-selected Hyannis-based Cape Air for this contract. The airline will operate the 9-passenger Tecnam P2012 Traveller to Boston Logan Airport. Flights will operate 21-weekly round trip flights between the city pairs.

Cape Air’s hub at Boston Logan (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Joey Gerardi)

Rutland to Boston was the first flight that Cape Air’s new Tecnam Traveller was flown on when it was first introduced. The contract will begin on Nov.1, 2021, and will run for two years until Oct.31, 2023. The annual subsidy rate will be $1,959,579 for the first year and $2,018,366 for the second year.

Quincy, Illinois (UIN)

Cape Air has been re-selected as the EAS provider in this small Illinois community. Flights will operate from Quincy to both St. Louis and Chicago O’Hare using the airline’s 9-seat Tecnam P2012 Travellers with flights to both airports operating 18-weekly flights each for a combined total of 36-weekly flights out of Quincy.

Quincy is a very interesting case as it is one of the few EAS cities that has gone from propeller service to jet service on a mainline carrier and then went back to propeller service. The community likes Cape Air so much that they recommended them for the contract in 2019 over SkyWest under the United Express brand, and they have been in Quincy ever since.

The contract will begin on Dec.1, 2021, and will run for four years until Nov.30, 2025, at an annual subsidy rate of $3,319,412 for the first year, $3,418,994 for the second year, $3,521,564 for the third year, and $3,627,211 for the fourth year.

 

This is the updated map, as of Oct.29, 2021, of all the EAS contracts and their operators in the lower 48 states and Hawaii.

A diagram of the current (Oct. 2021) providers of Essential Air Service in the United States, Excluding Alaska (Diagram: Gerardi Aviation Photography)

All numbers and information in this article come from publicly viewable documents on Regulations.gov

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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