OBPA favors Breeze Airways as new Ogdensburg International Airport carrier

Jun. 10—OGDENSBURG — Ogdensburg Bridge and Port Authority officials say they're favoring Breeze Airways to take over as Ogdensburg International Airport's new air carrier. The executive director said Breeze's 138-passenger jets bring the most potential for growth.

Right now, Contour Air offers flights to and from Philadelphia, subsidized by the Alternate Essential Air Service program (AEAS). OBPA officials want to go back to the regular EAS program when Contour's AEAS contract expires Sept. 30.

The Essential Air Service program subsidizes flights in and out of small regional airports to larger hubs. The OBPA had been under the EAS program when its former carrier, SkyWest Airlines, was in place. After SkyWest gradually reduced flights and eventually pulled out, the OBPA switched to AEAS.

Under the AEAS program, the federal Department of Transportation gives a stipend to the OBPA, which pays it out to its selected air carrier based on need. Under the EAS program, the DOT pays the money directly to the airline. The current AEAS contract with Contour Airlines expires in the fall.

Breeze Airways is proposing flights to and from Dulles International in Washington, D.C. on 138-passenger Airbus A-200 jets.

OBPA Executive Director Steven J. Lawrence said Breeze's proposal to use a higher-capacity jet meshes with their vision for the soon-to-be renovated Ogdensburg airport.

The project, which was awarded $18 million from Gov. Kathy C. Hochul's $230 million Upstate Airport Economic Development and Revitalization Competition, will expand the check-in, ticketing and baggage drop-off areas, construct a new canopy over the curbside drop-off/pickup area, install new passenger information display systems, among other improvements.

A new, multi-purpose great room will be created to provide community space for civic gatherings, conferences, business meetings and other public events.

"With the new airport addition, having an airline service in Ogdensburg such as Breeze really meshes well with how we will run the facility for the foreseeable future," Lawrence said Monday afternoon. "We want a busy, thriving airport and we feel that's what Breeze brings."

Lawrence noted that the higher capacity also makes it easier for the airport to hit the so-called "magic number" of 10,000 annual enplanements. Each year they hit that number, it automatically awards the OBPA $1 million for the airport from the federal government.

"We're favoring Breeze because it probably is the best opportunity for long-term growth of the airport and also is our best chance at meeting the 10,000 enplanements for our $1 million entitlement money form the Federal Aviation Administration," Lawrence said.

The OBPA Board of Managers has not yet voted for their preferred airline. Also making pitches are Boutique Air, suggesting six proposals on eight-passenger propeller planes. They currently offer service in and out of Massena. Contour also pitched continuing their flights to and from Philadelphia, Penn., on 30-passenger jets.

The U.S. Department of Transportation has the final say in which company takes over the contract, however input from the OBPA, the city and the public are taken into consideration before they make any announcements.

At its meeting Monday night, Ogdensburg City Council backed the proposal by Breeze Airways and will forward a resolution stating such to OBPA Chairman Vernon "Sam" Burns and U.S. DOT Commissioner Marie Therese Dominguez.

The OBPA meets to vote on their pick Thursday at 5 p.m. in the OBPA offices, 1 Bridge Plaza. They have until June 19 to notify the USDOT of their pick.