Durbin: Success of Cape Air in Downstate Communities Creates Opportunity for Continued Essential Air Service

More stability could bring permanent jobs and new routes to major hubs

[WASHINGTON, DC] – Assistant Senate Majority Leader Dick Durbin (D-IL) today announced that the Department of Transportation will begin soliciting proposals from air carriers interested in providing service starting December 1, 2011 in the communities of Quincy and Marion/Herrin. The current provider Cape Air – whose contract with the Department is schedule to expire on November 30, 2011 - has dramatically increased ridership on flights to and from both communities.


“The success of Cape Air’s service at Quincy and Marion/Herrin over the last year has led the Department of Transportation to explore a longer commitment to these downstate communities,” said Durbin. “A new contract will bring more stability and predictability to the service which will create an opportunity to bring permanent jobs and new routes to the area. It also shows that the Department of Transportation remains committed to providing these communities with safe, reliable and cost-effective air service.”


The Department of Transportation has asked that carriers submit proposals for two round trips per day (12 total round trips per week) with 34-seat or larger aircraft, four round trips per day (24 total round trips per week) with 15-seat to 33-seat aircraft, or six round trips per day (36 round trips per week) with eight-or nine-seat aircraft to Chicago O’Hare, Memphis, St. Louis, or another suitable hub where numerous connections to the national air transportation system can be made.


On October 22, 2009 Durbin and Congressman Jerry Costello (D-IL) announced that Cape Air was awarded the Essential Air Service (EAS) contracts in Marion/Herrin and Quincy. Under the contract, Cape Air is required to provide thirty-six trips per week to St. Louis for two years. This announcement followed a request from both members that the DOT initiate a process of finding a new carrier for service. The DOT previously held a contract with Great Lakes Aviation which failed to negotiate a critical codeshare agreement with American Airlines – a key component of the communities’ support for Great Lakes Aviation’s application to become the EAS provider in those areas.