JAMESTOWN - Travelers can still book tickets for departure out of the Chautauqua County Airport - Jamestown, while a new service provider is on the horizon.
Chautauqua County Executive Vince Horrigan said two bids have been received for service to replace current provider Silver Airways, a subsidiary of United Airlines, which in February announced its departure of service from Jamestown, effective May 15.
Horrigan said a team composed of 10 community officials will decipher which of the two bidding providers is most suitable.
Dave Sanctuary, temporary manager of parks and airports, is head of the team.
The new carrier must also cooperate with a contract from Essential Air Service, which provides federal subsidies from the Department of Transportation for airlines in rural areas and has provided funding for Jamestown for several years.
While county officials decipher the best option, Silver must continue to provide service for Jamestown, as required by the EAS.
"Silver will be here until the next airline is chosen, or until they are released by the Department Of Transportation in Washington, which basically means they'll be here until we get another carrier," Sanctuary said. "We are not going to be losing our air carrier service in the short term. It's great news."
Sanctuary said the community team will meet Monday to look over the bids, which were received last Friday.
A decision must be made by May 28, when the DOT will further decide to which carrier the bid will be awarded.
"Our hope is to continue uninterrupted service until we get the new carrier," Horrigan said. "We have to evaluate the bids and ensure that we have all the information."
Furthermore, Horrigan said continued funding from the EAS has been established.
"Our job now is to look at all the information and communicate with DOT, which will actually award the one they determine is in the best interest of the area, but we are going to still receive funding from the EAS," he said.
Sanctuary said he had spoken with a frequent flyer, who had booked a flight online recently to fly to and from Houston in June.
"Passengers can book flights in June and July still, and the reason is because if you book a ticket on the airline and the airline stops the service, they are liable for returning your money," Sanctuary said.
Sanctuary was the former manager of parks and airports, and has replaced Sam Arcadipane temporarily after his resignation in March.
Horrigan said he will decide on a permanent replacement in the coming month.
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