Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Cape Air flights to St. Louis will begin in December

15 Nov 2011 — Messenger-Inquirer
BY: By Joy Campbell

Cape Air will start daily flights from Owensboro-Daviess County Regional Airport to Lambert-St. Louis International Airport on Dec. 5.

The Massachusetts-based company is set to make 18 flights per week as the airport's new Essential Air Service provider, officials announced Monday. The flights' fares will be $49.99 each way.

"This is something the airport board has been looking forward to for quite some time," Airport Manager Bob Whitmer said. "Cape Air has a sterling reputation in the airline industry and is the largest commuter airline in the U.S."

While the new airline participates in the EAS program - which means it will receive an annual subsidy of $1.529 million - "it also serves many pockets without subsidy," Whitmer said.

"They know how to operate efficiently and effectively," he said. "And they know how to market and survive."

Survival without subsidy has been a sticking point for past carriers including the current company, KentuckySkies, which notified the U.S. Department of Transportation that it would not continue providing the service without subsidy.

That set in motion the DOT's process to find a new EAS provider, and Cape Air was selected from four applicants.

"We think Cape Air will heavily market the area," Whitmer said.

The weekly departure schedule from Owensboro will be: 6 a.m. with arrival in St. Louis at 7:10 a.m. Monday through Friday; 7 a.m. with arrival at 8:10 on Saturday; 9:30 a.m. for arrival at 10:40 a.m. Sunday; 12:12 p.m. for arrival at 1:30 p.m Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday; 1:25 p.m for 2:35 p.m. arrival on Saturday; 3:50 p.m. for 5 p.m. arrival Tuesday; 4:35 p.m. for arrival at 5:45 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday.

The St. Louis departure schedule will be: 10:30 a.m. for 11:48 a.m arrival in Owensboro on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday; 11:45 a.m. for arrival at 12:58 p.m. Tuesday and Saturday; 3 p.m. for 4:13 p.m. arrival on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday; 5:32 p.m. for arrival in Owensboro at 6:45 p.m. daily.

A 10-ticket discount commuter book is available for $469.

"Travelers will have many more flight opportunities and seats out of St. Louis than Louisville or Memphis," Whitmer said. "St. Louis is an ideal commuter hub."

"This is our sixth destination from St. Louis, and all of us at Cape Air are excited about being able to serve Owensboro" Cape Air Founder and CEO Dan Wolf, said in a news release. "We have seen ridership increase steadily in St. Louis, where we serve more than 70,000 passengers annually. Much of that success can be attributed to our codeshare agreement with American Airlines. This easy connection to American means you can book your entire trip on one itinerary and check your bags through to your final destination."

Cape Air also sells joint tickets and connects luggage with Delta, United, Continental, US Airways and Frontier.

The flights to St. Louis provide another option for travelers who may have been driving to Nashville or Louisville, Whitmer said.

"We have a lot of business travelers with home offices in Texas and Oklahoma - gas transmission companies, for example - and this will give them good connections for out West and provide good connections for Chicago and the northeast. This is a major benefit to the business community."

Other benefits, Whitmer said, are Cape Air's baggage agreements with major carriers, and that flights will be screened by the Transportation Security Administration in Owensboro, so that in most cases, passengers will not have to go through the process again.

"And a major factor in our selection was that you can go online to Expedia, Orbitz or Travelocity or any of those travel sites and get ticket prices and tickets," he said. "That is a tremendous advantage."

CapeAir's participation in the global distribution system gives people traveling to and from Owensboro numerous options for checking connections and prices.

Reservations may be made at 866-Cape-Air or online at www.capeair.com.

The carrier also plans to open a local office, probably downtown.

Cape Air is an employee-owned company flying to destinations that include New England, New York, the Carribean, Florida, the Mid-Atlantic, Midwest and Micronesia.