Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Rectrix Aviation readies island flights; second company may also add service

HYANNIS — There’s still work to do, but Rectrix Aviation is moving ahead with plans to launch scheduled commuter flights between Hyannis and Nantucket this summer.

The company, which has a facility at Barnstable Municipal Airport and offers private jet charters, announced Tuesday it had purchased two Beechcraft King Air 300 turboprop planes for the new route.

The 11-seat aircraft are now getting makeovers, including the installation of new leather seating, Wi-Fi and upgraded electronics, plus new exterior paint with the Rectrix trademark blue tail and red “R.” Each plane will carry up to nine passenger and two pilots will be aboard for each flight.

Richard Cawley, CEO of Rectrix Commercial Aviation Services Inc., said the company expects to begin the new service this summer, once it secures FAA approval and completes extensive training for pilots and ground handlers.

“We’re hiring all new people and there’s a lot that goes into launching this service,” Cawley said. “Eventually we will fly hourly, or every hour and a half, seven days a week, but we’re going to ramp up slowly.”

Nantucket Memorial Airport has signed a lease with Rectrix Aviation for office and terminal counter space, according to airport spokesman Noah Karberg.

Year-over-year passenger traffic at the airport has been declining as more and more tradesmen providing services to the island have opted for less costly ferry service. That was one of the reasons Tom Cunningham cited when his company, Island Airlines, closed without warning in December and later filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

Cape Air stepped up to help fill the gap by offering a dozen weekly flights in addition to its regular scheduled service and that of the company’s other brand, Nantucket Airlines, but there’s still demand for additional Hyannis-Nantucket service, Karberg said.

“There was a large hole left by the departure of Island Airlines. At one point we had three air taxis operating here,” he said. “We’re hoping to come back and really showcase this airport.”

And there may well be a third carrier on the horizon.

Barnstable Airport Manager Bud Breault said Noreast Aviation Services Inc. in New Bedford has expressed interest in operating a shuttle service between Hyannis and the island, though he hasn’t received a formal proposal.

Breault added that Rectrix, too, still needs to discuss its plans with the Barnstable Municipal Airport Commission.

“There’s nothing official yet. They’ll have to talk to the airport commissioners,” he said. “But we want this to happen. We’d like both. Competition is good, especially when it leads to better rates for passengers.”

Travelers to and from Nantucket have a number of other flying options this season. JetBlue resumed its seasonal New York-JFK and Boston service earlier this month and ahead of last year, with Washington-Reagan National flights set to start on Friday. The airline also has added two more Boston flights on Fridays and Sundays.

American Airlines will add three flights per week to New York's LaGuardia Airport starting June 4 and is “upgauging” this route and its exiting Reagan National service that starts June 2 to a larger Embraer 170 regional jet, according to Karberg, increasing capacity from 50 to 70 passengers.

Delta is continuing its twice daily jet service to and from JFK and has will also add a Saturday LaGuardia flight in early June. United will continue to offer three-flight-daily service to Newark starting July 1. And Cape Air continues to offer scores of daily flights to and from Boston, New York-White Plains and New Bedford.

“We are really grateful that we have the level of interest we have from the major carriers this summer,” Karberg said.

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