Board of Supervisors to Discuss Airline at Next Meeting

By Mario Conde

The County Board of Supervisors decided to continue with the airline service discussion for next meeting.

As requested by County Supervisor Jack Terrazas, the item was put on Tuesday’s agenda in order to allow more information be given for this issue and reconsider the decision made last week not to support a waiver  of the Department of Transportation Essential Air Service requirements. The Department of Transportation has received EAS proposals from Skywest Airlines and Seaport Airlines. Consideration of the Seaport Airlines proposals by DOT will only be entertained if the communities of the cities of Imperial and El Centro are willing to waive the 15 passenger, twin-engine requirements of Essential Air Service.

The Board of Supervisors voted 3-1 last week not to waive the Department of Transportation Essential Air Services requirements.

In a report given by Airport Manager, Bill Turner, said that Sky West subsidized air service under the EAS program at El Centro/Imperial. Skywest was selected to provide thirteen nonstop roundtrips to Los Angeles. The department current contract with Skywest call for an annual subsidy of $662,551 to provide a total of six nonstop and seven one-stop round trip per week to L.A. with 30-seat for a total annual subsidy of $1,852,091.

The other company, Seaport Airlines, proposes to provide the daily nonstop round trip per week: one to Phoenix and two to San Diego for a first year subsidy of $1,202, 248, and a second year subsidy of $1,226,710. All service would be with 9-seat, single engine aircraft that would be based in the El Centro/Imperial. The board had until Thursday to respond  to the Department of Transportation of who will take the Airline service but after the CEO Cordova spoke on to the Department during a break on the BOS meeting, they were given green light to have more time to review the EAS proposals.

A representative from Seaport Airlines gave the county board a binder with information about the company and the issue at hand. Since documents given to the board become public records, the board decided to continue this item until next week. In other news, the County Board decided to yet again to continue of the Coyote Wells Specific Plan Area Project (Wind Zero) that is proposed to be located in Ocotillo. The board decided to follow the recommendation of CEO Ralph Cordova to have the public hearing be held on December 13th at 10:30 a.m. at the County Administration Center.