November 29, 2022

Knox County Commission approves Cape Air for essential air services in Rockland

ROCKLAND — A special early morning meeting for Knox County commissioners on Monday, Aug. 1, via Zoom, saw a limited agenda. Commissioner Richard Parent was not present. First on the agenda was a presentation from Boutique Air, represented by its Vice President of Business Operations Brian Kondrad.

The Boutique Air review followed a meeting of commissioners on July 5, during which they heard presentations from two other airlines interested in replacing Cape Air as the Knox County airport carrier.

Every two to five years, the Ministry of Transport selects a carrier to meet the needs of a regional airport. The current contract was awarded in 2018 to Cape Air and is re-tendered. Three carriers submitted proposals for this award, and Knox County Airport had requested public comment to help make a recommendation to DOT.

Kondrad explained that Boutique Air was launched in 2009 and flies to 25 cities in the United States, including the Northeast. The company has 215 employees and prides itself on the safety, convenience and reliability of air service.

Boutique flies Pilatus, PC 12 aircraft and seats eight to nine people. The Pilatus is a Swiss-made single-engine turboprop aircraft.

Boutique has interline agreements with American and United Airlines. It currently serves Boston’s Logan Airport. Kondrad attributed his company’s increased passenger numbers to the fact that people appreciate the comfort and quietness of the plane.

Kondrad limited his presentation to 10 minutes, which was in line with presentations made by Cape Air and Southern Air at the previous committee meeting.

Commissioner Sharyn Pohlman asked if the Pilatus was a single-engine aircraft, and Kondrad said yes. It was argued at the last commissioners meeting by Jeff Northgraves, a member of the airport’s public advisory committee, that Knox County Airport is currently certified for twin-engine aircraft and if they waive it, it will not be able to never again go back to twin-engine aircraft.

The difference is that twin-engine aircraft can fly over water while single-engine aircraft cannot.

If Boutique Air wins the Department of Transportation’s tender for essential air services, it will be their first date in Maine. They are currently not considered for Augusta.

After Boutique’s presentation, the commissioners then made a recommendation to the DOT for essential air service for Rockland.

Knox County Airport Manager Jeremy Shaw had previously delivered a letter from Augusta Mayor Mark S. O’Brien. The letter, addressed to the DOT, indicated that the Augusta City Council and the airport supported Cape Air’s bid for essential air services.

Rockland City manager Tom Luttrell also voiced his support for Cape Air on Boutique and Southern.

Shaw said of the 18 letters the airport had received by July 22, all supported Cape Air rather than the other two carriers. Shaw said a letter asked Cape Air to provide service to LaGuardia, New York, as part of its service from Rockland.

Pohlman introduced a motion that Shaw is finalizing and recommending to DOT in a letter in support of Cape Air for essential air services for Knox County Airport.

The amendment passed 2-0.

In other cases, the Knox County Commission voted 2-0 on a law awarding the tender for solar power generation facility development services based on the recommendations of the ‘APAC.

This recommendation concerned ReVision Energy (https://www.revisionenergie.com/) from Portland. ReVision will begin its work in the spring of 2023.

After a brief executive session, commissioners named Zach Greene as the county’s new CIO. Greene will take office immediately.