Bidding time for Essential Air Service (EAS) carriers like Boutique Airlines is here and it appears thus far, Boutique is in it for the long haul.
Mid-Delta Regional Airport director Sam Washington informed the Greenville City Council and Mayor Errick Simmons of the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) announcement that the Request for Proposal (RFP) process is now underway for EAS providers in Greenville.
“They sent out the notification that they are soliciting proposals for the EAS provider in Greenville. As you know, Boutique Air is our current EAS provider for air service but the DOT has issued the Request for Proposal,” he said to the council. “I believe it stated that they’re going to ask for proposals by the end of March with the intent of having a new provider or having Boutique continue.”
Washington also noted the anticipated time frame for selection of an EAS provider is October.
Under the EAS program, the DOT determines the minimum level of service required at each eligible community by specifying a hub through which the community is linked to the national network, a minimum number of roundtrips and available seats that must be provided to that hub, certain characteristics of the aircraft to be used and the maximum permissible number of intermediate stops to the hub.
As the process goes, proposals will be reviewed by the Mayor and airport committee once they are submitted.
“And then, I’m sure we’ll be contacted by DOT about getting community input on who we like best and then a final selection will be made,” Washington explained.
Ward 1 Councilman Al Brock asked if the DOT had the final say as it pertains to the RFP process.
Washington responded, “The final decision is DOT, but they are going to want our input as a community on who we like best and if the community shows a strong interest in any particular provider, it is a very high probability that that provider will be the EAS carrier because the DOT wants the community to be happy with what they get.”