Airline promises $49 flights in and out of Jamestown

JAMESTOWN – The possibility of $49 flights in and out of Jamestown is real.

The Chautauqua County Airport Commission heard a presentation Wednesday from Cape Air, on what it can possibly offer for the future of the airport. It is the second of three airlines presenting to the commission.

Andrew Bonney, vice president of planning for Cape Air, provided the history of the airline, which partners with Jet Blue, Delta, United, American Airlines and Frontier for connecting flights. The airline operates a fleet of 75 Cessna 402 airplanes, which Bonney said are built and maintained by Cape Air staff.

Each plane is a nine-seat, unpressurized vessel. Because of its size, Bonney said it can only travel about 200 nautical miles, or to a destination around an hour and a half away. The company flies to what it calls “hubs,” or areas where there are many flight opportunities. Bonney said the price for a flight would be $49, regardless of destination.

For the Chautauqua County Airport in Jamestown, major hubs could include Pittsburgh, Cleveland and possibly Detroit. However, Bonney said Cape Air would be willing to work with the commission to find the best fit.

“If you guys have some sort of crazy, outlandish idea for what you would like to see in your local service, let me know,” Bonney said. “I would love to come up with something really creative, whether it’s you have a regular service out of your hub, but occasional flight somewhere else, or you’ve got some huge medical need, and so you’ve got four flights a day and you want one of them to be on a stretcher aircraft, we’d love to customize the solution.”

Additionally, if it is selected to provide air service in Jamestown, Cape Air would also have the option of using the Dunkirk Airport if necessary. For example, if weather in Jamestown prevented a flight from landing, but it could land in Dunkirk, passengers could then be shuttled back to Jamestown instead of being diverted or delayed.

Bonney also said Cape Air would hire someone to provide a strong image in the community.

“Getting to know the communities is one of the best things we can do,” Bonney said. “I love just taking in local events, whether it’s an air show or an ice festival … Every community is different, everyone has something they like to feature, and we get right there in the middle of it. We’re very philanthropic. We typically budget $45,000 to $50,000 per year for marketing. Those dollars go really far in a small market, so we can make a big difference in a small community.”

Following Bonney’s presentation, the commission had positive remarks. Several members thought a small airline such as Cape Air would be a positive for the airport.

The commission has already heard a presentation from Charter Air Transport, according to Sam Arcadipane, director of airports and parks for the county. It will still be hearing from Silver Air before receiving bids for an airline.

Also during the meeting, Arcadipane announced a new restaurant is anticipated to open at the airport in approximately two weeks.

The restaurant will be a ’50s-style cafe, tentatively named Brown Bag Cafe. The owners are Michelle Johnson and Craig Benson, who also own Brown Bag Banquets. Arcadipane said the menu will feature items with aircraft-related names. The restaurant will also feature fish fries on Fridays, as well as Sunday brunches.

Finally, the commission unanimously approved a letter of recommendation for Arcadipane to become the director of the New York Airport Manager’s Association.

The commission’s next meeting will be at 1 p.m. on Sept. 4, at which time it hopes to see the completed cafe.