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Cape Air adds NYC flights from Lake Clear

Pictured here is a Tecnam P2012 Traveller, the new aircraft that will fly in and out of SLK. (Photo provided)

LAKE CLEAR — Flights from the Adirondack Regional Airport to John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City will start after Cape Air finishes setting them up this spring, and tickets should cost about $150, the same as the airport’s existing roundtrip flights to Boston, a Cape Air representative said Monday, Jan. 17.

Airport Manager Corey Hurwitch announced on Jan. 14 that the airport’s updated contract with Cape Air will include converting one of its three daily flights to Boston-Logan International Airport into a nonstop, roundtrip flight to JFK. New York City could be the destination, he said, or a layover for one of JFK’s 184 direct destinations in 79 different countries.

Cape Air Marketing Director Erin Hatzell said the airline has space in JFK already, and that its many departments are now coordinating flights there for the near future.

She said the company has known for a while that the community here would like flights to NYC. So when Cape Air was looking to renew its contract with the Adirondack Regional Airport, which was set to expire in late February, it paved the way for the new flight routes.

Hatzell said the company wanted to stay in Saranac Lake, where it has been since 2008. Another company was vying for a contract here, too.

“These contracts are always competitive,” Hatzell said. “Small community air service is what Cape Air does. It is really our niche.”

Hurwitch said Cape Air’s contract was cheaper, anyway, but the new flight paths are exciting for him, the town and air travelers.

He said all sorts of people fly Cape Air through the Adirondack Regional Airport — business travelers, tourists, college students leaving and returning home, J-1 employees heading to and from their home countries and people seeking medical services at larger hospitals, namely in Boston.

The Harrietstown-owned Adirondack Regional Airport is part of the federal Department of Transportation’s Essential Air Service program, which facilitates and funds the contract.

The contract costs $3,529,342 annually to operate, according to a selection order document from the DOT. With a predicted $895,605 in passenger revenue each year, the rest of the operational cost is paid for through an annual $2.6 to $2.8 million federal subsidy.

Hatzell said when the airline industry was deregulated in the late 1970s, major air carriers started pulling service out of small communities because they were less profitable, to focus on bigger, more profitable routes.

The federal government created the EAS program to subsidize flights to rural communities, creating a financial incentive for airline companies to provide these flights to and from places too small to support them in the traditional market.

Cape Air focuses on this type of flying, Hatzell said — scheduling several small flights a day from Saranac Lake to larger airports.

The DOT included a letter from former Harrietstown Supervisor Michael Kilroy, who retired at the end of last year, in its reasoning for choosing Cape Air.

“Kilroy stated that the Board of Representatives of the Town of Harrietstown unanimously supported Cape Air proposal for a new, four-year contract term,” the DOT document says. “Kilroy wrote that Cape Air’s service to the New York City area is something the community had requested for several years, and the community believes this will significantly increase passenger traffic.”

Cape Air also plans to start flying the Tecnam P2012 Traveller in and out of SLK. Hatzell said the Cessna 402 airplane has been the staple of its operations for decades, but it’s been working with the Italian aeronautics company Tecnam to develop its next generation of aircraft.

She said the coronavirus pandemic stalled their rollout, but the plane was introduced in March 2021 and Cape Air now has 23 in its fleet.

Hurwitch said the new plane is roomier and more comfortable than the current plane. The new plane seats nine passengers, like the Cessna 402, but also includes up-to-date instrumentation for the pilots, USB ports, leather seats and LED lighting.

Cape Air currently has 76 Cessna planes in its fleet.

For more information, visit www.capeair.com.