Cape Air offers new ticket office
Rockland — Cape Air, based in Hyannis, Mass., opened a ticket office on Main Street in Rockland in early July. The airline, which has served the Rockland community since 2009, offers federally subsidized rates through the Essential Air Services program.
The EAS program was enacted by the federal government to ensure that rural communities were served by certified airlines in response to the Airline Deregulation Act of 1978.
Two employees staff the office, including Peggy Jones. Jones has been a travel agent for 30 years and assists people planning trips "to Boston and beyond." She said Cape Air is a community minded business and eco-friendly, adding that furniture in the office is made of recycled materials.
The Rockland office is connected to other airline services. Cape Air averages 850 flights each day with presences in the Midwest, Florida, the Caribbean and Micronesia. Taking a flight from Rockland to Boston, a customer could then fly with a partner of Cape Air to other destinations.
There are no penalties for switched flights and the airline offers commuter books for frequent travelers. "Safety is number one and making customers and employees happy is big with them," Jones said.
The airplanes in Rockland hold nine passengers, including the co-pilot seat. Dogs and cats are welcome on the plane for $10 each way.
The EAS program is subsidized by the U.S. Department of Transportation. There are 153 communities that receive subsidies in the United States and one community in Puerto Rico. Augusta and Bar Harbor also receive services from Cape Air through the program.
For a community to be eligible for the funds, it must be more than 70 miles from a Federal Aviation Administration-designated major or medium hub airport and would otherwise not receive air service. "The fares are kept low because they [the federal government] make up the difference," said Jones.
According to the Office of Aviation Analysis of the U.S. DOT, the budget to aid the 154 communities part of the EAS program totaled $123 million in 2009.
Airline companies seeking to receive subsidies operate on a bid system. Jones said the Cape Air Rockland contract is a three-year term.
It's been very busy, said Jones, and "the phone never stops." The first month the office had 126 walk-ins but most business is transacted over the phone.
Jones said every seat on the plane has a view. Because the airplanes are small, "there are no bad seats," she said. Jones said it's akin to a sightseeing tour as well as a flight.
An open house will be held Monday, Aug. 6 at 11 a.m. at the Cape Air City Ticket Office, 436 Main St.
Courier Publications reporter Juliette Laaka can be reached at 594-4401 ext. 118 or via email at JLaaka@courierpublicationsllc.com.