Mead & Hunt hosted its first Essential Air Service (EAS) conference recently in response to the Delta Air Lines EAS announcement terminating or modifying service in 24 communities.
Ten participants attended the five-hour conference to hear how EAS works and to discover steps that each of the airports should be aware of while going through the Department of Transportation (DOT) Request for Proposals (RFP) process. There was lots of information-sharing and discussion regarding the future of the EAS program and specifically the DOT’s RFP that is affecting 24 markets throughout the country.
During the conference, discussion centered on the history of the EAS program, how it works and what potential changes may be forthcoming. Topics of discussion also included what potential airline options are available for each community, the advantages and disadvantages of each, and what each community could expect in the bidding process.
To show an example of how success can be had for any size community, Mike Olson, Executive Director of Central Nebraska Regional Airport, presented a case study on Grand Island’s success recruiting regional jet service and Allegiant Airlines. Mike also discussed alternate EAS options available to those that might be interested.
A situational analysis of each attendee’s options was presented including what the next steps should be and how to make the most of the RFP process during the bidding time. The most important piece of advice for any community, even if not an EAS airport, is to be proactive in ongoing air service development efforts, know your market’s potential and make sure you do everything you can to try and improve your service.
The recurring theme throughout the conference was “Don’t sit idly by and wait for an airline to fall into your lap. Know your options, and get out there and recruit that airline.”
The question is then, what are you doing to be proactive at your airport?