Plattsburgh International Airport has received word from Pinnacle Airlines that it will be discontinuing most of its operations in Boston, including service to Plattsburgh and other northeast airports for U.S. Airways Express. The corporate decision follows the acquisition of Mesaba Aviation last year and recent decisions to restructure the airlines' priorities and commitments.
Pinnacle is notifying the U.S. Department of Transportation this week of its need to relinquish its various Essential Air Service (EAS) contracts linked to Boston, which will now trigger a process for securing a new air service provider at Plattsburgh. In consultation with Clinton County, USDOT will eventually issue a Request for Proposals, beginning a process that will likely carry into early 2012.
“Although we are disappointed to hear of Pinnacle's decision to terminate their US Airways EAS operations, we view this news as an exciting opportunity to further enhance passenger service at Plattsburgh International Airport,” states James Langley, Jr., Chairperson of the Clinton County Legislature. “As we continue to grow and develop our airport, we look forward to establishing a long-term relationship with a new carrier that will continue to provide passengers with daily flights to a major hub airport.”
“Pinnacle has been a great partner, taking our enplanements to a whole new level and demonstrating the market for larger aircraft with a major branded airline affiliation,” states Garry Douglas, President of the North Country Chamber of Commerce which serves as the marketing entity for the airport. “While we regret that they are moving on because of a major restructuring, their success here has positioned us for the future, as we hoped it would, and we are already in touch with other carriers who have been watching our progress here. The power of this market continues to be demonstrated and we will have several months to bring about a smooth and positive transition that may even open some new doors for us.”
Under the terms of the EAS program, Pinnacle cannot end service until a satisfactory replacement carrier has been secured.
“Beyond this basic requirement, however, Pinnacle has made it clear that they are in no hurry and want sufficient time to be taken for a positive transition,” Douglas said. “They are even working directly with us in our outreach to prospects, helping us to confirm how strong this opportunity is.”
Pinnacle, through its Colgan Airlines subsidiary, began Plattsburgh service in June 2010, offering full service flights utilizing 34-seat Saab aircraft. In its first full month of operation, the U.S. Airways Express service enplaned 1,355 passengers compared to 524 enplanements in the last full month of its predecessor. The strong performance justified and continued to support a third flight most days which was not covered by the EAS contract.
The US Airways Express operations at Plattsburgh will continue fully and without change until the transition to a new carrier. This will include continued marketing and reservations.