MARION — When U.S. Department of Transportation called for proposals for air service in Marion, Quincy and Cape Girardeau, they received proposals from five airlines to provide connecting service from Marion.
“Cape Air, while being successful here, is here because of the government subsidy provided by U.S. DOT. Their contract expires in November,” Doug Kimmel, airport director, said.
All five proposals have been submitted and most include several options for flights. Kimmel said the two closest options are from the current carrier, Cape Air, and SkyWest.
Cape Air would continue to fly to Lambert International Airport in St. Louis and has options with flights to Nashville, Tennessee.
SkyWest would offer 12 flights per week on a 50-seat jet to O’Hare International Airport in Chicago. Kimmel said this is the same service available in Paducah and Cape Girardeau.
Other proposals are from smaller regional carriers, each of which operate small aircraft (nine seats) like Cape Air. Each of the three proposals include options for flights to St. Louis and either Chicago or Nashville, or both.
Kimmel believes this is one of the most significant decisions related to air service that the airport authority will have to make for many years.
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“The airport is doing what it can to allow as many from throughout the region to weigh in the process as possible,” Kimmel said.
The airport will host meetings for community stakeholders with SkyWest Airlines on Thursday and Cape Air on July 23. The airlines will present their proposals to business and community leaders, government officials and the media.
“So at the end of the day, DOT will have as much input as we can give them from the community. I really believe the community input will rule the day as to what they recommend because the proposals from Cape Air and SkyWest are so close,” Kimmel said.
The airport authority has until Aug. 9 to submit community comments and let U.S. DOT know which proposal they prefer.
“It’s a wonderful position for us to be in to have these options to consider,” Kimmel said. “I am reserving judgement until we’ve heard from the individual airlines and heard from those from throughout our region.”
The easiest way to access the survey and view the proposals is through the airport's Facebook page, facebook.com/VeteransAirport, or visit veteransairport.com and click the link that says "cast your vote here" in the yellow banner at the top of the page. Contact the airport for more information at 618-993-3353.