Cape Air Plans Service To Rutland
Two-Year EAS Subsidy To Support Round-Trip Flights To Logan Airport
Published October 15, 2007
Cape Air has been granted a federal subsidy that will allow the Hyannis, MA airline service to offer daily flights from Rutland to Boston. The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) announced September 13 that Cape Air had been awarded a two-year Essential Air Service (EAS) subsidy worth $839,746 annually for commuter air service. EAS is a federal program that subsidizes commercial air passenger service in rural communities.
“This is timely news for Rutland and a good day for our local economy,” U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy said. “The airport is a valued transportation link for southern and central Vermont, and keeping air service in Rutland is important to so many facets of our economy. I am proud to support the airport infrastructure improvements in Rutland and the federal Essential Air Service Program, which together help bolster passenger air service in the region.”
The award means Rutland Southern Vermont Regional Airport will continue offering commuter air service after the current carrier, CommutAir, departs in the coming weeks. “This continued air service is welcomed news for Rutland County, the region, and our state. Commercial air service provided at this airport is an important part of the region’s transportation and economic vitality,” U.S. Representative Peter Welch said. The third member of Vermont’s delegation, U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, offered his comments on the DOT announcement. “This is great news for Rutland. Air service is an important economic and tourist link for southern Vermont,” he said. “Not only is it an economic asset for the area, it also helps connect the people of southern Vermont with the rest of the nation and the world.”
By the end of October, Cape Air will be offering three daily non-stop round-trip flights between Rutland and Logan Airport in Boston on nine-passenger Cessna 402 aircraft. CommutAir utilized 19-passenger Beech-1900s for its Rutland to Boston commutes. “There were lots of times we would fill up a 19-seat plane, but there were many more times that we had two, three or four passengers. The fixed cost for operating a Beech-1900 is somewhere over $1,900 an hour, and the 402 is almost half that cost, so it means they can afford to fly with smaller loads and still make a profit,” Rutland airport manager Tom Trudeau said.
Cape Air spokeswoman Michelle Haynes explained that additional planes would be added if flights were sold out. “It’s really important to keep in mind that we add planes during the busy times. If the demand warrants it, believe me, we’ll be adding planes,” she noted.
Haynes announced this was the first time Cape Air would be offering flights to a destination that was not surrounded by water. “I cannot tell you the energy and enthusiasm there is in the company for going to a ski resort. We are very, very thrilled. People are dusting off the surfboards and putting in the skis,” she commented.
The one-way fare from Rutland to Boston with a 14-day advance reservation will be $49. Haynes indicated the one-way, walk-up fare would be in the $61 to $77 price range.
Cape Air has established a reputation for reliability, convenient flights and customer service, she said. “If it’s not weather related, we never cancel. We fly with one passenger. Our record on that is impeccable. We own all our own planes, we don’t have any debt so we do not have to cancel if it’s not weather related,” Haynes said.
Trudeau said the three things people look for when selecting an air carrier are reliability, convenience and pricing. “This brings all those things together. The price will be absolutely right and there’s enough frequency to be able to connect, so it should be convenient. We’re certainly looking forward to their arrival here,” the airport manager explained.
Cape Air announced last February that it had established a partnership with the popular discount airline service, JetBlue. Cape Air and JetBlue operate out of the same terminal at Logan, enabling customers to change planes without going through additional security checks.
“JetBlue now flies to 27 cities out of Boston. So if you’re living in Rutland and you want to get to wherever JetBlue flies, you can fly on Cape Air into Boston and walk about 10 feet and get onto a JetBlue flight. You don’t have to recheck bags or go through security,” Haynes explained.
Cape Air is negotiating an arrangement with JetBlue to book flights from point A to point B on the JetBlue Website.
“Right now, what Rutland passengers can do is book a ticket on Cape Air, book a ticket on JetBlue and get on the plane and fly. What we’re hoping is going to happen is for a seamless one ticket, one call,” Haynes said.
Cape Air began operations in 1989 with flights from Boston to Provincetown. The airline expanded services rapidly in the 1990s to add flights across New England, including Hyannis, Nantucket, Martha’s Vineyard, and Providence, RI.
In 1993, Cape Air began offering flights to southern Florida and the Keys. Five years later the company expanded to include a number of Caribbean destinations.
Last year, Cape Air carried over 650,000 passengers and during its busy season offered 850 flights a day. It is considered the largest independent regional airline in the United States. Cape Air’s fleet includes over 50 Cessna 402 aircraft and two 46-seat ATR 42s, which fly to Guam, Rota and Saipan.
The news of Cape Air’s plans for Vermont comes on the heels of a recent decision to rename the Rutland State Airport. The new name, Rutland Southern Vermont Regional Airport, better reflects the facility’s importance to the region it serves.
There were over 42,000 operations last year at the Rutland airport, and it is the only facility outside of Burlington that offers commercial airline service.