FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 3, 2008
Following Big Sky's Sudden Financial Collapse, Stranding North Country Communities And Travelers, Schumer Pushes Dot To Entice New And Reliable Air Carriers To Region
Air Service across the North Country is Dependent on the Financial Support Provided by the EAS Program Subsidies to Attract Air Carriers
Schumer Calls on DOT to Offer Necessary Financial and Logistical Support to Rapidly Lure New Air Carriers to the Region and Ensure they Offer Long-term Reliable Air Service
In Effort to Prevent Big Sky from Leaving Flyers and Airports High and Dry, Schumer Calls on DOT to Closely Monitor Reimbursements for Outstanding Tickets and Back-Payments Owed to Local Airports
In the wake of Big Sky’s sudden financial collapse, leading to its abrupt termination of air service in five communities across the
Schumer also ratcheted-up pressure on DOT to aggressively solicit new carriers and to ensure Big Sky isn’t pocketing any of the EAS money so the local airports aren’t left footing the bill.
“Big Sky’s sudden collapse has made it crystal clear that in choosing a replacement air carrier for the
Big Sky recently announced it was terminating air service on January 7, 2008 for
DOT has issued a request for proposals (RFP) to fill this service that is due January 11th, 4 days after Big Sky vacates these markets. As local travelers could face a period of several weeks or months before a new carrier is able to begin service, it is critical that DOT aggressively court airlines to apply for this service and see that a decision on a new carrier is made as quickly as possible.
Schumer, a longtime champion for expanding air service to the
In his letter, Schumer encouraged the DOT to reach out to potential bidders to ensure that a breadth of good options is identified for each of these markets.
Furthermore, EAS supported air routes around the country are generally operated by relatively smaller airlines, but rely on code-sharing agreements with major airlines such as Delta, Jet Blue and USAir to name a few. These code-sharing partnerships allow those who travel on these routes to take advantage of the existing hubs, connecting flights and automated reservation systems of their larger counterparts.
Schumer, therefore, argued that it is important that DOT not only reach out to primary EAS applicants, but also to the potential code-sharing partners of these airlines. From both a financial and operational standpoint, these arrangements often take time to be completed, so engaging these potential partners as early as possible is critical.
Finally, Schumer in his letter noted that several of the cities served under Big Sky are currently owed payment by the airline. It’s been reported to Schumer’s office that Massena’s Airport is owed $5,000 and
It has also been reported to Schumer’s office that there as many as 14,000 tickets for travel on Big Sky after their suspension of service on January 7th. Schumer asked DOT's Aviation Consumer Protection Bureau to monitor this situation and ensure that alternative travel arrangements or refunds were provided to all people with tickets on Big Sky.
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