"Locally, this should be a smooth transition from one carrier to another," Bradford Regional Airport Manager Alicia Dankesreiter said Wednesday in a report to the airport authority about Southern Airways' acquisition of Sun Air Express, the low-fare airline that has served Bradford for a year.
"There will be no change in the name for now, no change in the fares and Southern Airways will fly the Cessna 208 Caravans, the same type already in use here," Dankesreiter said.
"In addition," she noted, "Sun Air's President Phil LeFevre and Mark Cestari, Sun Air's vice-president/marketing, will be joining Southern Airways with these same responsibilities."
Ryan Dach, Sun Ar Express' station manager at Bradford, has been promoted to northwest station manager of all PIT Connector flights, and will remain in Bradford, according to Dankesreiter.
Dankesreiter provided the Sun Air Express' numbers for February, which showed that 86 percent of the 100 scheduled flights were completed. Twelve were canceled due to weather and one because of maintenance. There were 268 passengers for the month, for an average of 10.08 passengers per day, which is still above the average of ten or more enplanements per service day during the most recent fiscal year as required by the Essential Air Service (EAS) program administered by the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Dankesreiter said she expects to see the number of enplanements to increase with the arrival of warmer weather.
Following the Airline Deregulation Act of 1978, which gave airlines almost total control over what domestic markets to serve and what fares to charge, concerns were raised that communities with relatively small passenger levels would lose as airlines shifted their operations to larger and often more-profitable routes.
To address these concerns, Congress established EAS, which ensures that smaller communities would retain their link to the national air transportation system with certificated air carriers, with subsidies, necessary.
The current two-year EAS contract expires this fall. During the review procedure, the Department of Transportation will begin analyzing the airport's data, such as the number of enplanements, and flight completions in the third quarter and solicit requests for proposals from airlines, usually in June.
A decision is expected in the fall, said Dankesreiter.
"We're sitting in a pretty position now," she said. "We're happy with the airline, and our numbers are the strongest in recent years. We hope the DOT looks favorably on that."
In his report to the authority members, facilities manager David Thomas said the need for deicing material runs through June since some pilots request deicing of the planes due to heavy frost.
With the help of a state-administered grant, the airport has purchased a ground power unit that can be used in starting commuter and charter planes.
Thomas also mentioned the upgrades that the maintenance department has made to the housing on the relay boxes at the fuel farm.
Thomas mentioned the first of regularly-scheduled staff meetings that he has held on the day after the authority meeting.
Authority members voted unanimously to pay Baker Tilly $15,000 for the 2015 audit.
Original article can be found here: http://www.bradfordera.com