Aeronautics committee concerned that EAS proposals only call for single-engine planes at Quincy Regional Airport

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Boutique Air wants to use the single-engine Pilatus PC-12 aircrafts to provide essential air service to Quincy Regional Airport. — Photo courtesy of Boutique Air

QUINCY — Interim airport director Gabriel Hanafin hopes representatives from the two airlines bidding to become Quincy’s essential air service provider will make presentations before a Quincy City Council meeting in late July or early August.

However, members of the Aeronautics Committee expressed reluctance during Wednesday’s meeting in City Council chambers to give their blessing to either proposal.

Boutique Air out of San Francisco proposes using Pilatus PC-12 single-engine aircraft with eight- or nine-passenger cabins if it gets the Quincy contract. Southern Airways Express out of Palm Beach, Fla., proposes using nine-passenger Cessna Grand Caravans, which are single-engine turboprop aircraft.

Cape Air, which notified the U.S. Department of Transportation in May of its intent to end passenger air service in Quincy, uses twin-engine Tecnam P2012 planes.

According to its website, Boutique Air recently added a fleet of Beechcraft King Air 350 planes, which are twin-engine aircraft. Southern Airways Express also has twin-engine Saab 340B aircraft as part of its fleet.

“The problem is (the airlines are offering) a single-engine aircraft,” Quincy Mayor Mike Troup said. “Quincy has never accepted single-engine aircraft for commercial flights.”

Hanafin has said Quincy officials can “veto” any EAS offer that doesn’t include twin-engine airplanes. He also said if the city were to accept any airline offers that call for single-engine airplanes, it also would lose the right to request twin-engine planes forever.

Committee member Jeff Steinkamp, a former interim director of Quincy Regional Airport, asked Hanafin to double-check that information before the airline representatives make their presentations — which are not yet scheduled.

“I kind of checked on that (issue) with some other airport guys,” Steinkamp said. “They said we would give (twin-engine planes) up for the next two years, but as we redo stuff two years from now, we wide open and still could get multi-engine planes.”

“Since we’ve never had single-engine service, we retain veto power,” Hanafin replied. “To any single-engine provider, we can say as a community that we prefer twin-engine planes. If we accept a single-engine provider, we lose that veto into perpetuity.”

“With all due respect, I’d like to ask you to really verify that,” Steinkamp said. “Maybe we need to get something in writing.”

Troup said if the city chooses not to accept single-engine planes, the Department of Transportation will need to negotiate with Cape Air to maintain service to Quincy.

“It’s not like we can lose our options, and we aren’t going to have flights,” Troup said. “We will be OK.”

“I think that’s a great position to take,” Steinkamp said.

Committee member Eric Entrup, a 1st Ward alderman, questioned if the public forums were necessary.

“Is everyone kind of in the state of, ‘We’ve got to veto this,’ because we don’t want single-engine and we’ve got two bids here for single-engine aircraft?” he asked.

Troup said he thought the forums were worthwhile because they will make the public aware of what the details are.

“(The single-engine flights are) definitely a concern for the city,” Hanafin said after the committee meeting. “That’s why we’re really eager to hear from the public to see how they value the number of engines on the aircraft. In years past, that’s one thing that made Cape Air so attractive to the public. They were offering a twin-engine service. We’ll have to wait and see what the public says.”

Hanafin said pilots of twin-engine planes train on how to fly if one engine fails.

“If a single-engine aircraft, by chance, has its engine go out, they still have plenty of gliding power,” he said. “It’s not all doom and gloom the moment they lose an engine. A twin engine gives an extra kind of cushion.”

Hanafin informed the committee that Cape Air has reduced the number of flights offered in Quincy, effective July 11. 

It has been maintaining nine flights a week to both Lambert International in St. Louis (at a one-way cost of $47 a flight) and O’Hare in Chicago (at a one-way cost of $72 a flight). The number of flights to Chicago remains unchanged, but Cape Air only will fly from Quincy to St. Louis three times a week — Monday, Thursday and Saturday, with all flights departing at 12:40 p.m.

Hanafin said the number of flights from Quincy dipped nearly 15 percent from May to June. There were 711 enplanements in May and only 606 in June. Fifty-four percent of enplanements in June were to Chicago.

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