American Airlines has served Sioux Gateway Airport for the last 19-months. And, the airline says it wants to keep operating daily flights, to Chicago, from Sioux City.
Spokesman Matt Miller told KTIV, "American will submit a proposal to the U.S. Department of Transportation to continue to provide Essential Air Service in Sioux City." Miller says the airline is "pleased" with its service at Sioux Gateway Airport, and the support it has received from the entire Sioux City community.
Airport board members are thrilled with the news, but they don't simply want to maintain the "status quo."
Nearly two years ago, the Department of Transportation picked American Airlines, over Delta Airlines, to get the Essential Air Service subsidy to serve Sioux Gateway Airport. The two-year agreement will expire this spring, and the DOT has already asked airlines to bid, again, for the right to serve Sioux City. Dave Bernstein, Airport Board Member said, "It will guarantee us that the DOT would incentivise someone to serve this market."
Airport Board Member Dave Bernstein says he's not concerned about losing service, just how much it will cost the federal government to make sure Sioux City has service from American, or another airline. "Our hope is that, when they come in with a subsidy request, and if there's other bidders as well, that the subsidy amount is much lower than it was in the past," Bernstein said.
Sioux City's participation in the Essential Air Service program, which pays airlines to serve smaller markets, wasn't Bernstein's choice, or the city's. "In the end, Delta made that decision two-years ago to put this in play," said Bernstein. Before that, Sioux City wasn't part of the EAS program. "We do feel the market can stand on its own, but with the EAS program out there, that can incentivise someone to come and serve the market," said Bernstein.
That won't stop the airport board from pushing for service to a second hub.
"We do need something that goes south, or west." But, Bernstein admits those conversations will likely come after the next EAS agreement is worked out.
The EAS bids are due to federal transportation officials by December 2nd. Bernstein says the DOT may ask for recommendations from the airport board, and city council, before a final decision is made.
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