The Owensboro-Daviess County Regional Airport (OWB) board of directors will soon be reviewing bids for their Essential Air Service (EAS) carrier. The current EAS carrier is Cape Air, whose contract is set to expire at the end of the year.
Airport Director Tristan Durbin said Tuesday he expects to receive three to four bids, which are due today.
Cape Air, which has served Owensboro since 2011, beat out three other bidders in 2019 to remain the EAS carrier for OWB. Cape Air currently offers two round-trip flights per day to Nashville and one to St. Louis.
The EAS program is subsidized by the federal government through a partnership with the U.S. Department of Transportation. The program was enacted to guarantee that small communities maintained commercial service.
EAS air carriers differ from private airlines such as Allegiant, which will continue its Owensboro-to-Orlando flights as usual.
Durbin said each bidder may submit multiple proposals — such as every flight going to only one destination or offering sights to multiple cities — but every proposal must offer 21 flights per week.
The board plans to review the proposal at their next meeting on Sept. 14. They will then make a recommendation to the Department of Transportation, which has the final say in Owensboro’s next EAS carrier.
In other business, the board discussed creating a strategic planning committee that would be tasked with coming up with a 2- to 3-year plan to make improvements to the airport. They plan to spend the next month coming up with candidates for the committee.
The board also approved a motion to begin accepting bids for a farm lease. The current lease, which pays the airport $232 per day, ends in December. There are roughly 480 acres that can be farmed, and the lease is typically for three years with up to two 1-year extensions available.
Durbin also noted that the Owensboro Air Show last weekend drew the second-largest crowd ever for the event. An estimated 10,000 people attended the static show Friday night to go along with 30,000 people attending the Saturday show and 25,000 attending Sunday.