CLOVIS (KSMX)- Key Lime Air (KG, Denver Centennial) will begin Essential Air Service regional jet flights on the Clovis Municipal to Denver Int’l route from May 1, 2020, replacing the existing turboprop service which is operated by Boutique Air.
The existing contract with Boutique Air, which operates from Clovis to an alternative hub at Dallas/Ft Worth, ended on January 31.
The two-year contract, awarded by the US Department for Transportation, will attract an annual subsidy of $4,398,896 and be operated under Key Lime’s Denver Air Connection brand.
In September 2019, the DOT requested community comments regarding this air carrier-selection case, and in response, the Mayor of Clovis, David M. Lansford, submitted an Alternate Essential Air Service (AEAS) proposal.
He proposed a 12x weekly public charter service to Dallas/Fort Worth to be provided by Contour Airlines.
The community comments also listed a variety of other elements which it deemed pertinent for the decision on which airline should be chosen for the EAS:
- selecting a carrier which had been approved to transport military personnel;
- selecting a carrier which operates aircraft with 30 seats or below, as the airport is limited by its Class III FAA Operating Certificate to types of this size;
- selecting a carrier with an interline or codeshare agreement with a major airline at the intended hub.
In choosing Key Lime Air, the DOT said its proposal “aligns well with the required statutory criteria, including the preferences expressed by CVN.
The DOT also rejected the Alternative EAS application as “typically… public charter service is approved when there is a lack of other viable air service options that meet basic EAS requirements and/or the community’s needs.”
In addition to awarding Key Lime Air the EAS contract, the DOT also agreed to extend Boutique Air’s existing agreement from February 1 until April 30, 2020. This would allow the incumbent carrier to continue to provide its 18x weekly service to Dallas/Fort Worth.
Also, it has an interline agreement with United Airlines at Denver and it has been “providing reliable EAS at Alliance, Nebraska, since June 2019.”