Saturday, November 25, 2017

Cape Girardeau Regional Airport (KCGI) enters jet age; jet service to Chicago begins Friday

Airport manager Bruce Loy is reflected on a United Express promotional poster hanging in the Cape Girardeau Regional Airport as he explains what passengers can expect from their new passenger service, SkyWest Airlines, while giving a tour Tuesday. Skywest will be operating as United Express.

Cape Girardeau will enter the jet age Friday with commercial passenger service to Chicago.

Utah-based SkyWest Airlines, operating as United Express, will begin round-trip passenger service from the Cape Girardeau Regional Airport to Chicago's O'Hare Airport with an afternoon flight, local airport manager Bruce Loy said.

The 50-seat, twin-engine jet is scheduled to land at the Cape Girardeau airport at 12:02 p.m. and depart for Chicago at 12:32 p.m., Loy said. A brief ceremony is scheduled before the plane departs for Chicago, he said.

United Express will provide 12 weekly round-trip flights, according to city officials. The schedule includes one daily nonstop flight to and from Chicago and one daily round trip with a stop in Quincy, Illinois, on Monday through Friday.

The schedule posted on the Cape Girardeau airport website includes a Saturday flight to Chicago, with a stop in Quincy, and a Sunday nonstop flight to Chicago, as well as two Sunday arrivals in Cape Girardeau.

"We are very excited about the ability to have jet service in Cape Girardeau and the ability to go to Chicago," Loy said.

Loy said this will be the largest aircraft to provide regular passenger service here since Ozark Airlines served Cape Girardeau nearly four decades ago.

As of last week, at least 17 passengers had booked flights on the inaugural trip to Chicago, Loy said.

United Express will replace Cape Air, which had been providing flights to St. Louis since November 2009 under the Essential Air Service program.

The federal government subsidizes air passenger service to Cape Girardeau and other small airports.

Cape Girardeau's airport board and the City Council selected SkyWest from among five airlines that submitted proposals. The U.S. Department of Transportation subsequently awarded the contract to SkyWest.

SkyWest was the only airline to offer jet service. The others would have flown turboprop planes that seat eight to nine passengers, city officials said.

The jet will have a flight attendant and a restroom, something none of the other airlines offered in their proposals.

Airport board member Justin Albright said earlier this year SkyWest would provide Cape Girardeau with "a real airliner."

SkyWest has a fleet of 421 aircraft and operates over 2,000 flights daily to 226 destinations throughout North America, according to the company.

O'Hare is a major hub for air service, making it convenient for Cape Girardeau passengers to connect to United flights and service from other major air carriers to destinations across the nation and around the world, Loy said.

SkyWest corporate communications manager McKall Morris said in an email to the Southeast Missourian the company is "excited to be a part of the community" and provide Cape Girardeau Regional Airport travelers with "excellent air service as United Express."

She said passengers can fly from Cape Girardeau to Chicago in less than two hours.

In Chicago, travelers can access United Airlines' 579 daily departures to 152 nonstop destinations around the world, according to Morris.

Counting all the airlines serving O'Hare, passengers have service to 208 destinations around the world, including 55 international stops, according to online information provided by Loy.

Morris said, "Ticket prices (for Cape Girardeau flights) may vary depending on the day of travel, how far ahead the tickets are booked and the number of seats remaining."

Loy said a computer check of United Express fares last week showed the lowest round-trip ticket price at $158.

Screening equipment will be relocated, and some interior walls moved as part of reconfiguring the terminal to better accommodate passenger traffic, Loy said.

The departure room, where passengers wait after they have been screened and their baggage checked, will be expanded, Loy said. The existing baggage holding area also is being reworked.

Plans call for replacing the public lobby area furniture to provide "more of an executive-office lounge look," he added.

Relocation of the scanning equipment will occur after the last Cape Air flight departs late Thursday afternoon. The work also will include recalibrating the scanning equipment, Loy said.

"It all happens overnight," he said.

But some of the other changes likely won't be completed by Friday, Loy said.

The public, however, won't be focused on the terminal changes, Loy said. For passengers and visitors alike, the focus will be on the aircraft, he said.

"I think it will be pretty exciting," Loy said.

Original article can be found here ➤

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