City council endorsing Breeze Air's bid to provide service at Ogdensburg Airport


OGDENSBURG -- Ogdensburg City Council is endorsing Breeze Air as the airline they'd like to see receive the Essential Air Service Subsidy.

Breeze Air is one of three airlines vying for the federal subsidy that helps offset costs for air service in rural communities.

Last week the airline was one of three that shared their proposals with the public.

Breeze operates 137 passenger jets with wifi and three seating classes.

Their proposal includes flights to Washington D.C., once per day.

Mayor Michael Tooley spoke about the pros and cons of each airline proposal. And while Breeze had pluses in the above mentioned categories, the biggest drawback is the lack of interline connections.

What that essentially means is that passengers can't book connecting flights, instead they would need to book a separate flight. That means they would need to reclaim and check their baggage.

Tooley noted that the airline is hoping to solve that issue before October, when they would begin providing service to the city if awarded the contract.

Tooley said the 137 passenger planes are in line with the Ogdensburg Bridge and Port Authority's goal of making the local airport a hub and would likely be more attractive to Canadian flyers.

Deputy Mayor Dan Skamperle also offered strong support for Breeze Air. He noted that the airline also expressed strong interest in adding non-subsidized flights to Florida, that's something Breeze is already doing from Plattsburgh.

He noted that the airline was following a model similar to Allegiant Air, which once provided service to the local airport, but discontinued it following the pandemic which made turning a profit exceedingly difficult.

Although not present at the meeting City Councilor Jennifer Stevenson, expressed support for Contour Air, which is the current provider.

Contour Air provides flights twice daily to Philadelphia and has interline agreements with American and Alaskan Air.

She said as someone who flies out of the airport three times a month, that Contour's service and ability to connect with other flights is very convenient. Contour offers 30 passenger jets.

Contour's biggest weakness was a poor track record of flights out of Ogdensburg over the last two years.

However, recently that problem has decreased. That's largely due to a partnership with Skywest, which provided Contour with significant access to back up planes, parts and maintenance crews.

The third airline in the running was Boutique, which operates an 8-passenger plane. Although the airline has an immaculate record and offered a wide variety of flight options as well as interline connectivity, council seemed to agree that a smaller airplane would not have the same appeal to travelers as the larger jets.

City council voted 5-0 to support Breeze Air. Councilors Michael Powers and Stevenson were not present, though Powers shared a statement of support for Breeze Air.

The recommendation will be passed on to the OBPA who will make their own recommendation soon. A public meeting will be held Thursday where they are expected to discuss the matter.

The public is also encouraged to provide comment on the proposals and can do so by by visiting www.regulations.gov/document/DOT-OST-1997-2842-0456/comment

Input can also be sent to Michael Martin at the Department of Transportation  at Michael.F.Martin@dot.gov before June 19.