LAKE CLEAR — Flights from the Adirondack Regional Airport to New York City’s John F. Kennedy International Airport will begin after Cape Air finishes setting it up this spring, and tickets should cost about $150, the same as the airport’s existing round-trip flights to Boston, a Cape Air representative said Monday.
Airport manager Corey Hurwitch announced Friday that the airport’s updated contract with Cape Air will convert one of its three daily flights to Boston-Logan International Airport into a non-stop round-trip to JFK. New York City could be the destination, he said, or a stopover for one of JFK’s 184 direct destinations in 79 different countries.
Cape Air’s director of marketing, Erin Hatzell, said the airline already has space at JFK and its many departments are now coordinating flights there for the foreseeable future.
She said the company has known for a while that people in the Adirondacks would like flights to NYC. So when Cape Air wanted to renew its contract with Adirondack Regional Airport, which was set to expire at the end of February, it paved the way for the new flight paths.
Hatzell said the company wanted to remain in Saranac Lake, where it has been since 2008. Another company also competed for a local contract.
“These contracts are always competitive,” Hatzell said. “Small common air services is what Cape Air does. It’s really our niche.”
Hurwitch said Cape Air’s contract was cheaper anyway, but the new flight routes are exciting for him, the city and the air travelers.
He said all kinds of people fly Cape Air through the Adirondack Regional Airport — business travelers, tourists, students departing and returning home, J-1 visa officers going to and from their home countries, and those seeking medical attention at larger hospitals, namely in Boston.
Harrietstown-owned Adirondack Regional Airport is part of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Essential Air Service program, which facilitates and funds the contract.
The contract costs $3,529,342 per year to operate, according to a selection order document from the DOT. With a projected $895,605 in passenger revenue per year, the rest of the operating costs will be paid through an annual federal grant of $2.6 to $2.8 million.
Hatzell said that when the airline industry was deregulated in the late 1970s, major airlines began withdrawing services from small communities because they were less profitable, to focus on larger, more profitable routes.
The federal government created the EAS program to subsidize flights to rural communities, giving airlines a financial incentive to offer these flights to and from places too small to support them in the traditional market.
Cape Air focuses on this type of flying, Hatzell said — scheduling several small flights a day from Saranac Lake to larger airports.
The DOT included a letter from former Harrietstown Supervisor Michael Kilroy, who retired late last year, in his rationale for choosing Cape Air.
“Kilroy stated that the Harrietstown Council of Representatives unanimously supported Cape Air’s proposal for a new four-year contract term,” the DOT document reads. “Kilroy wrote that Cape Air’s service to the New York City area is something the community has asked for for years, and the community believes it will significantly increase passenger traffic.”
Cape Air also plans to fly in and out of the SLK with the Tecnam P2012 Traveler. Hatzell said the Cessna 402 aircraft has been the staple of its operations for decades, but it is working with Italian aerospace company Tecnam to develop its next-generation aircraft.
She said the coronavirus rollout has slowed the rollout, but the aircraft was introduced in March 2021 and Cape Air now has 23 in its fleet.
Hurwitch said the new plane is more spacious and comfortable than the current plane. The new aircraft seats nine passengers, like the Cessna 402, but also includes up-to-date pilot instruments, USB ports, leather seats and LED lighting.
Cape Air currently has 76 Cessna aircraft in its fleet.