At a special meeting at City Hall on Tuesday, the Dodge City Commission approved an agreement to make Boutique Air the new Essential Air Service provider at Dodge City Regional Airport.

The move comes after the previous EAS, PenAir, filed Chapter 11 restructuring and closed their Denver hub which Dodge City was a part of.

"On Sept. 12 the Department of Transportation received four proposals for the EAS service," airport manager Corey Keller said. "It is the recommendation that we accept the proposal of Boutique Air."

Boutique Air will offer 18 weekly round-trip flights with a total subsidy of $3,621,182 annually to the Federal Department of Transportation.

According to the agreement, there would be three flights per day with two on Saturday and one on Sunday.

The plane in use would be a 9-seater Pilatus PC-12, which is noticeably smaller than the 32-seater used with PenAir.

Prior to the city commission approval, Boutique Air was approved by the Airport Advisory Board and the Selection Committee.

Great Lakes, the EAS prior to PenAir was one of the other proposals along with Key Lime and Silver Airways.

"Key Lime's proposal was for a chartered-style service," Keller said and would be based on demand and Silver ended up pulling out because part of their agreement was for a five city stop similar to that of PenAir but when another city went to a different airline, Silver Airways pulled out."

Commissioner Ken Smoll referenced the pilot issue or lack there of, when discussing Great Lakes as an option.

"Really Boutique is the best offer we were able to get," he said. "And I don't want to take a chance on Great Lakes and their reliability.

"The charter service is not a good answer either.

"This way with Boutique we keep a co-chair through baggage and keeps TSA here."

The baggage agreement with Boutique Air would be with United Airlines with a possible full co-chair coming soon according to Keller.

"With the pilot issue," Keller said. "Boutique is a 135 which means they don't require a co-captain to fly under less training hours so what that does it makes pilots able to gain the training hours required for bigger airlines so they fly with Boutique to gain those hours."

Commissioner Brian Delzeit asked on the possibility of upgrading from a single-engine plane to jet in the future.

"Yes," Keller said. "The contract would be for 2 years with Boutique which would put us right at the time the runway extension construction would be completed."

Currently, the runway for bigger jets is too small and plans will begin to extend the runway in March 2018 with completion taking place some time in November 2019, according to Keller.

The approval of Boutique Air was made unanimously with a 5-0 vote.

The final approval for the EAS will be finalized by the US Secretary of Transportation.

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