By Bill Vander Weele
Indications are that Cape Air, a company with headquarters in Hyannis, Mass., will serve Sidney and the surrounding area as its air provider in the near future.
The Essential Air Service Task Force of Montana selected Cape Air for the service during a recent meeting. Final approval must come from the Department of Transportation. Silver Airways is committed to continue the service in Sidney and the other four Essential Air Service locations in eastern Montana through Oct. 26.
“I’m excited,” Bill Henderson, airport manager in Sidney, said about Cape Air. “These guys seem to be on fire to do us a service.”
Walt McNutt, Essential Air Service Task Force member, said there were two other less attractive bids made by other airline providers.
McNutt was hoping to see a bid with 19-passenger planes, but he feels the nine-passenger planes that Cape Air offers will work for area travelers.
“I think it will be OK,” McNutt said. “Once people are on the flights, they will see it’s a nice airplane, well-kept and comfortable.”
Cape Air has committed to five round-trips from Sidney to Billings on weekdays and two on Saturdays and Sundays. Cost is $49 each way.
Henderson explains Cape Air is willing to increase the number of flights in communities if the need is displayed.
“I think it will work if people give it a chance,” McNutt said.
Henderson said Cape Air and Silver Airways have experiences with the transition period, so Cape Air will likely take over flights prior to late October. Silver Airways decided not to bid for the flights this year.
He feels Cape Air offers a lot of positives for travelers including improved connections for baggage and easier bookings for longer trips.
According to the company’s website, Cape Air operates a fleet of more than 66 Cessna 402s with up to 850 flights per day. The employee-owned company has been recognized for its outstanding customer service. It features ticket and baggage agreements with most major airlines.