Saturday, March 01, 2014

Dubois Regional Airport (KDUJ), Pennsylvania

DRA waiting to advertise for new air service

REYNOLDSVILLE - Clearfield and Jefferson Counties Regional Airport Authority heard at yesterday's meeting it will need to wait on the U.S. Department of Transportation to advertise for and award an essential air service contract for the DuBois Regional Airport.

On Feb. 14, Silver Airways, which has served as the airport's EAS provider since September 2008, announced it would discontinue its current two-year contract for commercial air service it provides between DuBois and Cleveland-Hopkins International Airport. Receiving a similar notice were airports in Jamestown, N.Y., Bradford, Franklin and Parkersburg, W.Va.

The company whose contract to provide EAS at the airport would have expired Aug. 30 forced DOT to move up its deadline to advertise for proposals from early summer to as soon as specifications for an agreement can be prepared. Bob Shaffer, airport manager, said in an interview following the meeting, requests for proposals have not been advertised as of this morning.

Although Silver's early departure decision was unexpected, Shaffer assured authority members during yesterday's meeting the experience is no different than one they would have had later this year when DOT would have advertised for EAS contracts for DuBois Regional Airport for a two-year period beginning Sept. 1 through Aug. 30, 2016.

He noted during the meeting, he has had several calls from airline companies inquiring about various features of the airport noting he presumes this means those companies are pondering submitting an application once DOT advertises.

He said once the advertisement is placed, the airlines will have 30 days to submit offers to DOT. DOT will then allow the public, including the authority, 30 days to comment on the airlines that have submitted applications. The agency will then make an announcement shortly after the 30-day comment period has ended concerning which airline is being awarded the contract and notify the authority and the public. Shaffer said the company that submits the lowest bid is the one generally chosen.
"I would expect that we will see DOT coming back with a list by the end of March," Shaffer told the authority, adding, "I hope the low bidder will be the one we want to provide service from here."

Shaffer said the authority would have no control over which airlines submit proposals nor which city flights would travel to. "Silver has committed through May 15 and I hope we will know something before that." Shaffer said he hopes the airline that submits a proposal for EAS at DuBois would also be interested in utilizing the airplane maintenance facility there. He said in the past the facility has been a draw for airlines and he hopes that would continue.

EAS is a program that provides federal subsidies directly to companies for commercial air service they provide at airports that can't fund a commercial air service contract on its own but can justify the need for commercial air service. DuBois Regional Airport has been in the EAS program since 2006.

Silver Airways notice said discontinuing the air service would allow the company an opportunity to strengthen operations, simplify its fleet, increase revenue, and reduce its costs and better position the airline for future growth and new markets.

In other business, the authority:

• heard a report on the recent Part 139 inspection. Shaffer said Part 139 sets standards for all airports that have commercial air service allowing pilots to have a comparable experience.

He said the inspection was "extensive" and "all-encompassing." "We had some issues," he said noting those were partially because of the recent loss of two key employees noting those had to do with paperwork, filing and signatures. "We got ripped on a couple things. We're addressing those and we'll be better for it."

Shaffer said there were no safety issues and no huge problems. "The airport is as safe as it always was. We are in compliance and we will continue to be in compliance."

• heard a report on the audit of the 2012 financial records. Tim Fannin of Catalano, Case, Catalano & Fannin, Clearfield, said the audit was clean with no findings in either reporting or compliance with regulations.

Fannin told the authority he is retiring, and Tracey Clark-Radzieta who also attended the meeting, would be assuming his duties as the firm's newest partner. The authority thanked Fannin for his work and his excellent service to the airport.

• heard it has been a long season of snow removal at the airport. Shaffer said crews are using a second truckload of salt. "We have never needed a second load of salt that I know of. Usually 26 tons is enough to see us through the winter season."

Shaffer said a total of five truckloads of sand have also been needed to maintain the runway this winter. Usually one load is needed.

He said the storm that is predicted for Sunday into Monday, if it materializes, would require four employees to move snow. Two plows will transfer snow simultaneously and a blower is required to keep snow from blocking the runway lights.

Shaffer said this would be the third major storm at the airport this winter. "Hopefully this is the last hurrah," he said.

• signed two contracts with GAI Consultants, DuBois, for engineering services for projects to be done this year. Both projects were recommendations in the recent Part 139 inspection.

The authority plans to seal and repair cracks in the pavement around the airport and paint markings on the restored pavement and replace 50 worn signs erected in 2000 with signs with LED lights resulting in a savings in both electricity costs and light bulbs for the authority.

The cost for engineering is $30,982.14 for the pavement crack sealing and repair and painting and $31,073 for the lighting project. The costs for engineering will be paid with the Federal Aviation Administration assuming 95 percent of the total cost and PennDOT's Bureau of Aviation and the authority paying 2.5 percent each of the remaining cost.

The next meeting is March 28 at 8:30 a.m. at DuBois Regional Airport's conference room.


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