OWLS HEAD — Three airlines submitted proposals to Knox County to provide federally-subsidized air transportation to the Knox County Regional Airport over the next two to four years.

This includes the current longtime carrier: Cape Air.

The Essential Air Service contract to provide air transportation to smaller, rural communities has come up for renewal for the Knox County Regional Airport in Owls Head. The U.S. Department of Transportation contracts with airlines and provides them federal subsidies in exchange for serving these regions.

Cape Air has served Knox County as the essential air service provider since November 2008. Since then, they have flown more than 80,000 passengers locally, according to the airport.

The renewal came up last four years ago when Cape Air was again selected.

The three airlines that have submitted proposals in order to receive the federally-subsidized essential air service designation are Cape Air, which states it will serve Knox County with a 9-seat Cessna 402 or a 9-seat Tecnam Traveller; Southern Airways Express, with a 9-seat Cessna Caravans; and Boutique Air, with a 9-seat Pilatus PC-12.

Boutique Air submitted a proposal in 2018 in an effort to land the contract for Knox County.

The Knox County Regional Airport is seeking written comments through July 22. Once those are received, the Knox County Commissioners will vote to recommend one of the carriers to the federal agency. A final selection by the federal government will be made later this year.

Comments can be sent to Knox County.

A review of the three proposals shows Cape Air is requesting a subsidy of $3,380,000 for the first year which increases to $4.16 million by the fourth year.

Boutique’s proposal would require a subsidy of $3,583,000 in the first year and $3,726,000 in the second year.

Southern would need a subsidy of $3,476,000 in the first year which would increase to $3,743,000 by the fourth year.

The average fare for passengers would be $111 under Cape Air, $49 for Boutique, and $73 for Southern.

Southern Airway Express

Boutique Air.