Whether Boutique Air will continue to provide Essential Air Service to both Chadron and Alliance is now up to federal officials, as each community has submitted a recommendation letter backing competing air carriers.
In a letter dated Feb. 5, the Chadron City Manager told the U.S. Department of Transportation city officials want to see a new two-year contract awarded to Boutique Air. Gregory Yanker says Boutique has shown a commitment to Chadron by adding a new satellite maintenance shop which has added local full-time employees. Yanker says while the subsidies needed by Boutique Air are higher than those proposed by Denver Air Connection operated by Key Lime Air, the benefits to Chadron outweigh the additional cost.
Meanwhile, in a February 6th letter supporting the selection of Denver Air Connection, Alliance Airport Director Lynn Placek says their passenger traffic has stagnated under Boutique at about 5,000 per year, due in part to nearly full flights coming out of Chadron, and limited seating and checked baggage capabilities with Boutique aircraft. Placek says with 12.5% more annual seats and almost unlimited baggage capability in a plane configuration with nine seats, stand-alone service from DAC is their top choice.
Federal Transportation officials generally follow the recommendations of a community as they determine which company will be awarded an Essential Air Contract. For both communities, the new contract starts June 1st.