Knox County commissioners favor keeping the airline that has served the county’s regional airport for a decade.
Commissioners voted Tuesday to recommend that Cape Air receive the federal subsidy that makes it feasible for airlines to serve small regional airports. The U.S. Department of Transportation awards the subsidy every two years through the Essential Air Service Program.
However, Cape Air prefers a four-year contract.
Since receiving the essential air service designation for Knox County Regional Airport in 2008, Cape Air has faced no competition when reapplying for the subsidy. But this year, California-based airline Boutique Air filed a proposal with the U.S. Transportation Department to serve Knox County through the subsidy program.
Federal transportation officials will make their decision by the end of August, according to airport manager Jeffrey Northgraves. Both airlines are also vying for the federal subsidy to serve Augusta State Airport, which is currently served by Cape Air.
Northgraves said local input typically plays into the final decision.
Cape Air, a Massachusetts-based airline, served nearly 14,000 passengers at the Knox County airport last year, according to Northgraves. It is the only airline that provides year-round service at the airport, with flights from Boston to Knox County and back.
Boutique Air’s proposal totaled $2.85 million for one year of service to Knox County, with a two-year option. Cape Air’s proposal for one year of service was about $2.2 million, with a four-year option, according to proposals submitted by the airlines.
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