Opinion: Select Boutique Air for Massena’s Essential Air Service, Potsdam man says
Massena’s Essential Air Service contract is up for renewal on April 1st, 2019. 4 airlines including the current carrier, Boutique Air, are being considered by the Massena Town Council. Boutique Air, SkyWest, and Cape Air representatives have pitched their offers.
1. Boutique Air currently provides three daily round-trip flights to Boston; I fly this route weekly- leaving Massena Monday morning and returning Friday evening.a. The flights are comfortable, leave Massena on-time regularly, there are no change or cancellation fees, and customer service is excellent (a representative is available on the phone in minutes).
b. The schedule enables a morning Massena departure and a same day return- useful to patients receiving treatment in Boston.
c. Boutique Air plans to set up a Massena maintenance facility, which will significantly contribute to its economy.
2. SkyWest’s proposal is contingent upon Massena and Ogdensburg approving their bids to Washington Dulles and Chicago O’Hare.
a. There will be no North Country flights to Boston, which will be a tremendous loss. This route is used by patients to Boston hospitals, students to colleges in Greater Boston, professionals to the Boston metropolis, and passengers making connections from Logan Airport, which has routes to hundreds of domestic and foreign destinations.
b. The schedule makes it impossible to leave Massena to Dulles or O’Hare and return on the same day.
c. SkyWest flies 50-seat jets, which, to fly at full capacity, require 200 passengers to leave Massena and Ogdensburg daily. This is highly unlikely- low enplanements would result in SkyWest pulling out, leaving both airports without EAS.
3. Cape Air proposes flying to Boston direct, or via Albany.
a. The Town Council selected Boutique Air over Cape Air in 2017 due to delays and cancellations.
b. Cape Air has not improved. I flew from Saranac Lake and Ogdensburg in Fall ‘17 with such bad experiences I switched to PenAir, driving another hour to Plattsburgh. The flights were delayed (sometimes cancelled) by 3 - 4 hours, for trivial reasons.
c. Direct flights to Boston depend on Cape Air receiving new aircraft, uncertain to happen by April ’19. The current Cessna aircraft are uncomfortable, the cabins unpressurized, and much more weather-reliant than Boutique Air’s Pilatus planes.
Boutique Air is the best option. I urge Massena’s Town Council to support their bid.