DOT mum on EAS subsidy in wake of Skywest dropping Massena service, but Boutique Air hopes to provide flights
Tuesday, February 26, 2019 - 5:47 pm

By JIMMY LAWTON
North Country Now

OGDENSBURG – The U.S. Department of Transportation officials are reviewing Skywest’s notice that they will not be providing services to Massena Airport, but will not comment on what that means for air travel in the area.

A spokeswoman for the DOT did not answer questions regarding what would happen to the nearly $6 million essential air service subsidies awarded to Skywest.

Although officials from Skywest say flights from Ogdensburg will continue as planned, the DOT has not officially confirmed that the airline would still receive the subsidy for Ogdensburg. But, Ogdensburg Bridge and Port Authority Director Wade Davis said the Massena issue would not impact Ogdensburg flights.

It is also unclear what company, if any, will receive the nearly $3 million subsidy for air service in Massena, but many are hopeful the DOT will award the funding to Boutique Air.

The Massena Town Board endorsed Boutique Air to receive the subsidy from the onset. Boutique currently serves Massena with flights to Boston and has received the previous EAS subsidy.

Boutique was denied the recent EAS award, but planned to offer three daily flights to Boston via Pilatus PC-12 single-engine propeller planes if granted the EAS subsidy.

But no assurances have been given by the federal DOT at this time that Boutique Air will receive the subsidy now that Skywest has pulled out.

“At this time the DOT has not posted the official order regarding Skywest on the DOT website. We at Boutique Air are excited about the prospect of having our contract renewed in Massena and continue providing daily flight service for many years to come,” Bernadette Lemberger, Director of Marketing at Boutique Air said.

Despite not having heard from DOT regarding the subsidy, Boutique Air CEO Shawn Simpson said he was pleased with Skywest’s announcement.

“We are very pleased with the turn of events and are happy to continue our service to Boston. I think it is a win-win for everyone involved,” he said.

Massena Highway Superintendent Frank Diagostino, who oversees Massena International Airport, said they have not heard if the EAS subsidy will now go to Boutique Air.

“My opinion is I would assume they would is because they’re the EAS provider and they bid on the job,” Disagostino said. “The original contract is up April 1, so I hope we know before then.”

Town Supervisor Steve O’Shaughnessy said he has not heard from DOT officials, but he is hopeful Boutique will get the award.

DOT’s press office said they are still reviewing the notice from Skywest and will be in touch with the communities and carriers regarding the next steps.

DOT did not provide a timeframe for such an announcement and did not provide answers to questions regarding what would happen to with the subsidies.

North Country Now reporter Andy Gardner contributed to this article.