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Owens faces first intra-district challenge in airport dispute

"I have been trying to reach Bill Owens and he finally called me back at about 1:30 or 2 p.m. He told me that his intention as our Congressman is that he is pushing for U.S. DOT to do two separate bids," Miller said. "When I spoke to DOT on Friday, they told me that they wouldn't consider separate contracts. But someone must be changing their minds because when I spoke with them today, I was told that they are considering two separate contracts."

Officials said that if DOT allows for the contracts to be split, it would be a precedent-setting move.

According to Saranac Lake Area Chamber of Commerce executive director Sylvie Nelson, who has been lobbying heavily for Cape Air, the number of airline passengers has tripled at Adirondack Regional since Cape Air took the helm.

During election season, Owens's work at Plattsburgh International was a significant portion of his job creation platform.

The EAS program was adopted by the federal government in 1992 as a means to incentivize airline service to rural, regional airports.

Cape Air currently dominates the EAS market in New York State, being the benefactor of five of the six qualified airports in the state. Only Chautauqua-Jamestown Regional Airport has a different provider.

According to U.S. DOT, in the current year, Cape Air has received $1.43 million for service to Adirondack Regional and $1.38 million for service to Plattsburgh International.

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