Approval received Tuesday of the Border Coast Regional Airport’s application for Alternate Essential Air Service by the U.S. Department of Transportation means Contour Airlines will be able to start offering jet flights from Crescent City to Oakland in just a couple months.
“The Department will enter into a grant agreement with Crescent City to provide up to $3,310,503 per year in financial assistance to be used by Crescent City for public charter service to Oakland International Airport, or alternate large or medium hub airport designated by the community,” the DOT order reads, “using 30-passenger Embraer ERJ-135 (jet) aircraft for a 30 month term beginning April 1, 2018 through Sept. 30, 2020.”
Contour CEO Matt Chaifetz said by phone Tuesday he expects operations to be underway in Crescent City by mid-April.
“We hope to have tickets on sale early next week,” he said. “We will be launching with a very aggressive introductory fare that will make it very affordable to go to the Bay Area. We feel AEAS is about making travel accessible to the community and I think our fares make that feasible.”
Airport Manager Matt Leitner said he was struggling to contain his enthusiasm following delivery of the DOT approval.
“I’m very grateful,” Leitner said, “and it bears repeating to thank the tribal organizations, city, county and state governments, (U.S. Rep.) Jared Huffman’s California office, (Sen.) Peter Dafazio’s Oregon Office, the State of Oregon and all the people who voiced their support for this. I think we did very well and it will be a huge success.”
Chaifetz said he and the company was thrilled to have the support of the Crescent City community during the most recent selection process and will be working quickly to post job listings and do the necessary site work to get started. Contour will use a mix of locally-hired and company employees, he said.
Contour will operate out of the existing terminal and will bring its own computers and equipment, along with it’s 30-passenger jet plane.
Chaifetz said the plane and crew will be overnighting locally most weekdays, but his staff is still finalizing a schedule. Contour staff will also be at the airport next week for site preparation.
“No doubt, our service will be a huge benefit to Crescent City,” he said.