OGDENSBURG — The Ogdensburg Bridge and Port Authority is negotiating with Contour Airlines to be the new air carrier at Ogdensburg International Airport, with Philadelphia as the flight destination.
“We need to negotiate a contract, an agreement with Contour. We have talked preliminarily with them,” said Ogdensburg Bridge and Port Authority Executive Director Steven J. Lawrence.
“We hope to … in the next week or 10 days have an agreement with Contour Airlines,” he said.
Mr. Lawrence made the comments in response to an announcement from Rep. Elise M. Stefanik, R-Schuylerville.
Her office on Monday announced $11,218,457 from the U.S. Department of Transportation to fund the cost of 27 months of AEAS roundtrip, non-stop flights from Ogdensburg to Philadelphia International Airport from July 1, 2022 to Sept. 30, 2024.
“I am proud to announce that Essential Air Service will continue at the Plattsburgh and Ogdensburg airports,” Ms. Stefanik said in a prepared statement. “I advocate for critical air service programs every year to provide our North Country families with convenient and more accessible travel, as well as attract tourists to our region. I will continue to work to keep and expand this critical program throughout communities in New York’s 21st District.”
Ogdensburg International’s current Essential Air Service carrier is Skywest. They have been doing four flights in and out per week since May 2. They’re planning on offering the flights through June 27, Airport Manager Stephanie L. Saracco said in early April.
Earlier this year, SkyWest announced it would pull out of Ogdensburg in the spring. The airline has since been ordered by the U.S. Department of Transportation to remain in Ogdensburg until a new airline is found. In March, SkyWest had gone down to just one flight per week in and out of Ogdensburg. Meanwhile, the Ogdensburg Bridge and Port Authority is in negotiations with Contour, who will be funded by the $11.2 million Alternative Air Service grant.
The EAS program, which funded Skywest, was developed after the airline industry was deregulated in 1978. The EAS program was put into place to guarantee air service to underserved communities. EAS subsidizes commuter airlines across the country to serve approximately 140 rural areas, including five other communities in upstate New York: Watertown, Jamestown, Massena, Plattsburgh and Saranac Lake/Lake Placid. The OBPA Board of Directors had rejected two EAS proposals after board members said they wouldn’t work in Ogdensburg. That’s when they looked into to the Alternative Essential Air Service program.
The Alternative EAS program funds the air carrier differently. In that program, the USDOT sends grant money to the Ogdensburg Bridge and Port Authority, and they in turn pay the airline, based on performance. In the standard Essential Air Service program, the money goes from the USDOT directly to the airline.