St. Lawrence County colleges, schools and politicians urging DOT to award EAS bid to SkyWest Airlines
State and federal representatives, colleges in Potsdam and Canton, Ogdensburg School Officials and St. Lawrence-Lewis BOCES have all issued letters of support for SkyWest Airlines to receive the Essential Air Service subsidy.
SkyWest proposes flights aboard United Express-branded 50-seat jets twice daily to Chicago and Washington D.C. from Massena and Ogdensburg.The EAS contract provides federal subsidies of approximately $2.7 million to air carriers serving Massena and Ogdensburg airports. The contract is about to expire, and four carriers are bidding.
Skywest’s bid is contingent upon receiving EAS subsidies from both Ogdensburg and Massena -- totalling more than $5.5 million -- to help pay for the service. The ultimate decision will be made by the U.S. Department of Transportation, which administers the EAS funds.
Ogdensburg has thrown its support behind Skywest, but Massena favors Boutique Air, which provides flights to Boston aboard nine-passenger propeller planes.
“We chose Boutique over Skywest because of the frequency of the flights. Boutique is three per day and Skywest was two, and going to different destinations, so we felt that was a positive,” Massena Supervisor O’Shaughnessy said of the decision. “We also didn’t like the schedule Skywest had proposed, hopscotching from Massena to Ogdensburg and back.”
Officials at the Development Authority of the North Country, Clarkson University, SUNY Potsdam, St. Lawrence University, Paul Smith’s College, Paul Smith’s College, Ogdensburg School District and St. Lawrence-Lewis County BOCES, and MAPCO Auto Parks sent similar letters.
St. Lawrence University President William Fox says the service provided by SkyWest would establish a level of access that has never been available in St. Lawrence County.
“It is critical for us to be efficiently connected to the rest of the nation and world in order for us to provide that education and attract the best students and workforce,” he said in his letter.
Fox said the service will bring economic development benefits by establishing greater access to the air travel networks.
At Clarkson, President Anthony Collins said the service will be welcomed.
“The North Country Region has seen and continues to see strong economic growth, it is an attractive place to pursue higher education as well as remain to launch a career and raise a family. As the North Country Continue to grow, the need for reliable, seamless air service to a major hub with prove connectivity is vital to the region’s success,” he said.
Congresswoman Elise Stefanik, Sen. Patty Ritchie and Assemblywoman Addie Jenne also sent letters of support.
All of the letters can be viewed at http://northcountrynow.com/sites/default/files/webfm/ncnow/OGS%20SKYWEST...
In a letter issued to Office of Aviation Analysis Director Todd Homan, Stefanik said the flights connecting the North Country to Chicago and Washington D.C. would enable North Country travelers to access major transportation hubs and expand tourism.
"For continued growth and development in the City of Ogdensburg and beyond, I hope the SkyWest proposal will be met with favorable consideration. The momentum of successful development projects in this region has laid a solid foundation for the successful expansion of airline services," she said in her letter.
Ogdensburg Bridge and Port Authority Executive Director said he is pleased with the high-level of support he has seen for the SkyWest bid.
"Bringing United Express 50 passenger jet service to the North Country via SkyWest opens up new travel options and economic opportunities for the region with direct access to Washington and Chicago. This further increases tourism that is so vitally important to the region while allowing businesses an easier mode of travel into and out of the region; this translates into significantly increased economic opportunities at reduced costs. SkyWest United Express service will be a game-changer for the North Country," he said.
Davis said the Ogdensburg Bridge and Port Authority strongly urges the USDOT to award the OGS EAS bid to SkyWest as it is the lowest cost and best value using USDOT's EAS selection criteria.