Wednesday, December 12, 2018

‘Advocate Drum’ says SkyWest flights in St. Lawrence County will benefit base, region

OGDENSBURG — The availability of new travel routes from Ogdensburg through an Essential Air Service contract with SkyWest Airlines would have a major and positive impact on the 36,000 soldiers, civilians and family members living and working at Fort Drum, according to the Fort Drum Regional Liaison Organization.

In a letter to the U.S. Department of Transportation, the director of Advocate Drum, the regional liaison group promoting the Army post, said his organization strongly supports the hiring of SkyWest to provide essential air service in St. Lawrence County, and that those flights would benefit Fort Drum.

SkyWest is proposing daily flights from both Ogdensburg and Massena airports destined for Washington Dulles and Chicago O’Hare.

“Please accept this recommendation for the USDOT award of the Essential Air Service bid to SkyWest Airlines for the Ogdensburg International Airport,” wrote Edward W. “Fritz” Keel, executive director of Advocate Drum. “Our support for SkyWest-Ogdensburg Essential Air Service bid award, is to increase local air travel options for the more than 36,000 soldiers, army civilians and family members who call Fort Drum home, as well as the greater north country community.”

Mr. Keel said providing new travel routes — especially to the country’s Midwest — will have a positive impact on not only the military community living and working at Fort Drum, but for the entire region.

“We believe that providing a local option for western destinations will be a tremendous benefit to Fort Drum, and will benefit the local and regional economy,” Mr. Keel said.

The Fort Drum Regional Liaison Organization is now the latest voice in a growing chorus of supporters for SkyWest’s introduction to St. Lawrence County and the north country, according to OBPA Executive Director Wade A. Davis. He said the group’s support is extremely important because Fort Drum’s role as an economic driver in the region is unmatched.

The plan has also been backed by the Ogdensburg Bridge and Port Authority, the city of Ogdensburg, U.S. Rep. Elise M. Stefanik, R-Schuylerville, state Sen. Patricia A. Ritchie, R-Heuvelton, and the presidents of five north country colleges and universities, including Clarkson University President Anthony G. Collins and St. Lawrence University President William L. Fox.

The Development Authority of the North Country has backed the SkyWest Airlines EAS bid.

“SkyWest’s United Express Service on a 50-passenger jet out of Ogdensburg will provide a low-cost, efficient, and direct service to those who serve us every day to Chicago and Washington,” Mr. Davis said. “Fort Drum is the largest economic engine in the north country ... How can you go wrong with a new air service that will serve the interests of our military, civilian and north country population?”

Mr. Davis said the OBPA strongly urges the USDOT to award the EAS bid to SkyWest as it is the lowest cost and best value using the DOT’s own selection criteria.

The OBPA is at odds with the town of Massena, who has backed Boutique Air for its EAS provider. That company is proposing daily flights to Boston on nine-seat turbo-prop planes.

SkyWest, if hired, has promised to service both Ogdensburg and Massena with 50-passenger jets.

Original article ➤ http://www.watertowndailytimes.com

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