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Cape Air officially acknowledges success of air service to Boston

PLATTSBURGH Cape Air has been offering air service from Plattsburgh to Boston since February, and its had a good time doing it. Daniel A. Wolf, chief executive officer and co-founder of Cape Air, gave a positive report about the airlines progress at Plattsburgh International Airport during a press conference and reception at the airport May 8. Since Cape Air began offering daily service three months ago, flights, on average, have been at 42 percent capacity, Wolf said. The figure is slightly higher than the original expected goal of 40 percent, though less than air service at Rutland State Airport in Vermont, which began offering Cape Air flights in November. There, average flights operate at 55 percent capacity. However, Wolf expects that to change. We are exceeding what the projection was, in the first three months, said Wolf. We are not operating at the load factor of Rutland yet, but I think if we check back in three months, well be right there, if not, exceeding it. The numbers are favorable, considering challenges facing the airline industry in general, said Wolf, which include rising fuel prices. With the price of crude oil most recently more than $120 a barrel, airlines across the world are feeling the economic pinch. However, major airlines, who have approximately 40 percent of their expenses allotted for fuel, are at more of a disadvantage than airlines like Cape Air, said Wolf. Fifteen percent of Cape Airs budget is all that is necessary to be allotted for fuel, he said. Even though fuel is having a huge impact on our business, proportionally, its a much smaller impact than its having on major airlines, Wolf said. Despite concerns across the airline industry, Wolf anticipates continued growth for Cape Air in the coming year. The employee-owned airline which began in 1989 with one airplane, one route and approximately 6,000 overall passengers that year will likely see 750,000-800,000 passengers served this year on its fleet of 54 aircrafts, he said. The airline has also already begun a partnership with JetBlue Airways Corporation to provide connecting service for Cape Air passengers to other destinations from Bostons Logan International Airport. Wolf said passengers will eventually be able to purchase one ticket through Cape Air that will take them to other JetBlue destinations, though passengers may currently do so but will receive multiple tickets. This September, Cape Air will add an Albany hub with three new routes between the state capital which will include Watertown, Ogdensburg and Massena. Eventually, direct air service from Plattsburgh to Albany could be offered, though that would be a fiscal venture the airline would have to take on its own. Andrew W. Bonney, Cape Air vice president of planning, said the airlines service to upstate New York communities is under the auspices of the Essential Air Service Program, which utilizes federal dollars that dictate where air service can be provided. If were going to do that, we just need to do our homework, and make sure the business plan would work, said Bonney. Its absolutely something we can put on the table. Clinton County Legislator Dr. Robert W. Heins, R-Area 10, City of Plattsburgh, commended Cape Air for bringing to the North Country high quality air service to Boston, something he could not say for its predecessor, Big Sky Airlines. Big Sky ceased local operations in January, citing poor weather conditions, disappointing revenue and record high fuel prices for the reasons behind the decision. Reliable air service is something, to be honest, on a daily basis we havent had here in awhile, said Heins. Economic development and the business community relies on that. This is what were happy to say is happening now. The quality of service, said Wolf, has simply followed the companys acronym credo, MOCHA HAGoTDI, which stands for Make Our Customers Happy and Have A Good Time Doing It. It is our privilege day in and day out to prove to you that not everybody in the airline industry is out to trap you in an airplane, lose your luggage, separate you from your family and charge you, literally, for every breath you take while on their aircraft, Wolf said to a response of raucous laughter. We are single-handedly going to change the reputation of the airline industry.

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