The U-S Dept of Transportation has awarded a 2-year Essential Air Service subsidy contract for the Chadron-Denver route to Southern Airways, one of the largest commuter airlines in the country..
Southern Chief Commercial Officer Mark Cestari says the airline is excited to get DOT approval after the Chadron City Council unanimously recommended it.
The contract starts June 1 and current holder Boutique will continue flying until a smooth transition is completed. Cestari isn’t sure when that will be.
Cestari says Southern wants to be able to start flying just as close to June 1 as it can.
Still, Cestari says Southern won’t take over until it’s sure no existing travel plans out of Chadron will be affected.
Under the contract, Southern will provide 12 weekly round trips on a 9-seat King Air 200 with a projected 6,000 boardings at an average fare of $62. The company will also spend at least $25,000 on marketing.
The subsidy is $2.7-million the first year and $2.6-million the second or about $450 per passenger. Chadron is exempt from the subsidy cap of $200 because its more than 210 miles from DIA, the nearest large or medium hub airport, which also exempts it from the EAS minimum of 10 boardings a day.