Boutique retains air service contract

ALAMOSA -— The United States Department of Transportation issued an order on Thursday re-selecting Boutique Air to provide Essential Air Service (EAS) at the San Luis Valley Regional Airport.

Boutique was awarded a two-year contract that will run from October 1st, 2018 to September 30th, 2020.

The selection is welcome news for many who have been involved as this matter has been an extensive process. A public forum was held by Alamosa County on July 25 when three airlines — Boutique, Key Lime Air and California Pacific — presented their proposals to be selected for the Essential Air Service.

Since that time, much has taken place. The Alamosa Board of County Commissioners had originally made a decision to recommend California Pacific Airlines to USDOT. California Pacific proposed using a 50-seat jet aircraft. The county supported the proposal by stating, “ADI/California Pacific Airlines proposal provides the greatest potential for growth of the air service market throughout our community.”

However, after further discussion and negotiations, the commissioners chose to switch their recommendation and stay with Boutique.

The Alamosa County Commissioners explained that after their earlier recommendation they “received numerous phone calls and e-mails from our constituents and their desire to remain with Boutique Air as the essential air service provider. They expressed the benefits of the interline agreement that Boutique currently has in place with United Airlines … In our effort to make sure we represent the desires of the citizens of our community we discussed this matter further at our board meeting on August 8. It was the unanimous decision of the board to withdraw our recommendation for ADI/California Pacific and recommend that Boutique Air continue as the EAS provider for this region.”

The commissioners also expressed their preference for a two-year term contract with Boutique Air.

Service will continue at the San Luis Valley Regional Airport with 24 non-stop trips per week to Denver International Airport from Alamosa using the Pilatus PC-12 aircraft (eight or nine seats.) Boutique also has ticketing and baggage services connected to United Airlines. (Flights to Albuquerque were discontinued earlier this year.)

The subsidy rate will be $2,891,307 for the first year and $2,949,133 for the second year. Boutique’s proposal also indicates it will commit $20,000 annually to market the air service.

Reasons that were given for the re-selection by USDOT included that Boutique was found to be reliable and sought the lowest subsidy. California Pacific sought an annual subsidy of $3,747,848 and Key Lime, $3,537,691.

In addition, USDOT stated that it had received a substantial number of comments from members of the Alamosa community in support of Boutique Air and its full code-share with United.

USDOT stated, “Boutique Air has a proven record of providing reliable EAS at Alamosa, has interline ticket and baggage agreements in place with a larger air carrier, and has included a marketing plan in its proposal … the community of Alamosa and its county commissioners are supportive of Boutique Air’s re-selection, for a new two-year term. Additionally, Boutique’s proposal sought the lowest subsidy of the proposals submitted for consideration.”

Air travel out of the San Luis Valley will continue thanks to this decision.