Feds choose new air company for Decatur airport

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DECATUR, Ill. (WAND)- The U.S. Department of Transportation chose the company Cape Air to serve Decatur's airport Thursday, against the recommendation of the city’s park board.

The Decatur Park Board initially chose Cape Air to serve the airport, but later reversed that decision and chose another company, SkyWest, amid a push from business groups and ADM. Cape Air had offered flights to both St. Louis and Chicago, while SkyWest offered jet service only to Chicago.

In its decision, the U.S. Department of Transportation noted SkyWest’s proposal would cost $6,617,890 while Cape Air’s proposal would cost $5,918,004, a difference of $699,886. DOT also noted that Cape Air’s service would provide twin-engine service to Chicago-O’Hare Airport and Lambert-St. Louis Airport and that Cape Air has interline and marketing agreements with Alaska, American, Delta, JetBlue and United Airlines.

“Since the Department cannot reasonably justify such an increase in annual subsidy and Cape Air’s service will sufficiently meet Decatur’s EAS, the Department will select Cape Air for the two-year contract term from February 1, 2018, through January 31, 2020.   

ADM had pledged $100,000 for airport improvements, contingent on the choice of SkyWest.

"We are very disappointed in the U.S. Department of Transportation’s decision," ADM wrote in a statement. "Passenger jet service would have been a catalyst for local Decatur businesses, helping drive economic growth and job creation in the region. We are reviewing the decision and evaluating options for reconsideration or appeal."

Airport Director Tim Wright said "it'll be business as usual" at the airport after the DOT's decision. o

"We knew that the decision was in the hands of DOT," Wright said by phone. "We look forward to welcoming Cape Air."

Cape Air plans to run 24 round-trip flights to Chicago and 12 round-trip flights to St. Louis, said spokesperson Trish Lorino.

"“Cape Air is pleased to have been selected by the Department of Transportation to serve Decatur for two years," Lorino said. "We trust the process undertaken by the DOT, and look forward to serving the Decatur community with the same level of service and commitment we have shown in all the EAS communities where we have been the selected carrier.”

You can read the Department of Transportation's decision below. We will add more information to this article shortly.

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