OGDENSBURG, N.Y. (WWNY) - “Very disappointing.” That’s how the chair of the Board of Directors of the Ogdensburg Bridge & Port Authority describes the loss of SkyWest flights from Ogdensburg International Airport to Chicago.
Sam Burns said Thursday the federal government, which made the decision, “failed to understand the long term benefits to the north country flying public and the OBPA of continuing the service to Chicago and Washington.” (See Burns’ full statement by scrolling down to the bottom of the page)
Earlier this week, we reported there will be no more SkyWest flights from Ogdensburg International Airport to Chicago as of April 1.
The Ogdensburg airport benefits from the federal government’s Essential Air Service program. Under that program, the U.S. Department of Transportation compensates air carriers to fly passengers from small airports to bigger hubs.
For the last 2 years, the DOT subsidized SkyWest to fly people from Ogdensburg to Chicago and Washington, D.C. Earlier this week, we learned the the Chicago flights will end at the end of the month.
Dan Fay, who lives in Canton, took Ogdensburg to Chicago flights several times a year for business.
“I’m going to miss them immensely. It’s just a great opportunity to get on a plane. You’re 18 miles from home and 2 hours later you’re in Chicago,” said Dan Fay.
After the pandemic hit a year ago, his meetings were held virtually.
“I just hope the pandemic ends...and I can fly again out of Ogdensburg,” said Fay.
He’ll only be able to fly from Ogdensburg to Washington, D.C. The DOT decided this week that it will subsidize SkyWest to offer flights only to Dulles International Airport. (See the DOT’s EAS order below)
The DOT tells 7 News SkyWest submitted two options as part of its latest proposal to provide air service.
The first option would have kept both Chicago and Washington flights. The second option was service to Dulles only.
A DOT spokesperson says the department chose the second option because the cost is significantly less than the first one.
How much less? About $2.5 million over the next 3 years.
Under the deal, SkyWest will continue to provide 12 nonstop, roundtrip flights per week.
“One of the big benefits of this change is that with all of those flights we’re able to adjust the flight schedule,” said Wes Horrocks, spokesperson, SkyWest Airlines. “By April 1, when the schedule shifts, we’ll actually have a very early morning departure and a late evening arrival in Ogdensburg.”
Ogdensburg officials say the Chicago flights were “popular” before the pandemic hit last year with an average of 30 passengers per flight - slightly higher than Washington flights. Since then, SkyWest says the number of passengers aboard the flights has been in the single digits.
See the DOT’s order below:
See Burns’ full statement below: