QUINCY -- The countdown is on at Quincy Regional Airport as nonstop flights from the local airport to Lambert International Airport in St. Louis will officially begin on Jan. 8, which is in less than 30 days.
"We have definitely received lots of question about the St. Louis route, which is reassuring to us," said Sandra "Sandy" Shore, who is the director of the local airport. "We hope that interest in that route is vast and those that really asked for that route will use this new service."
Tickets for that first St. Louis-bound flight aboard Cape Air's state-of-the-art Tecnam P2012 Traveller are now on sale across all platforms, including on Cape Air's website, capeair.com/book_flights or by calling 1-800-227-3247. The airline is also selling tickets for daily flights to Chicago's O'Hare International Airport. Airline officials say tickets for one-way flights to St. Louis are $49 and $69 to Chicago.
Quincy's airport will be the second airport in the nation to have the Tecnam P2012, which is a nine-seat plane manufactured in Italy.
"Hopefully, we are going to get these planes here in time to do a public event prior to Jan. 8," Shore said. She later added that helping the public to become more comfortable with the aircraft is crucial to the airport's success.
"I think it is a major part of the success of this new business model for the airport," Shore said. "A lot of people certainly enjoyed a jet, but I think it is important for the public to know that this is not the same plane that they flew on two years ago. It is much more spacious, much more comfortable. We are really looking to showing it off. Once the more apprehensive passengers familiarize themselves with the aircraft then we are confident that they will be happy to fly on Cape Air."
Flights aboard the Tecnam P2012 to St. Louis are expected to take 46 minutes, while the aircraft is expected to make the Chicago trip in about 98 minutes.
Cape Air takes over as Quincy airport's Essential Air Service provider from SkyWest Airlines, who will continue to offer departing flights from Quincy to Chicago's O'Hare International Airport through the morning of Jan. 7.
Shore told members of the city's aeronautics committee on Thursday that she believed transition between the two airlines will continue to be seamless with no interruption in flights.
According to airport officials, once Cape Air's flight schedule is fully implemented, the airline will offer three flights per day on Monday through Friday. On Saturday, the airline will have two flights to St. Louis and one flight to Chicago and two flights to Chicago and one flight to St. Louis on Sunday.
In other business, the aeronautics committee unanimously referred to the city council two items related to a potential pilot solar energy program involving four acres of the airport. If approved by the council, the aeronautics committee would like to proceed with an application to the state government for a certified renewable energy credit, which Shore said would help fund the purchase of necessary equipment to construct the solar farm. The second item would be to request proposals from an engineering and consultant firm who could help guide the airport through the initial set-up of the solar farm.
"This project can not move forward without the tax credits," Shore said. "We are doing these things simultaneously so that, if approved by the state, that we can move forward because there is a very time sensitive process that we would have to follow."
This is the second time in recent memory that the airport has explored the idea of transforming the airport's farm ground into a solar farm. In January, the airport had sought bids for converting 350 acres of tillable land into the solar farm.
"Through that process we realized that there were a couple of variables that were holding developers back from really doing a project of that size," Shore said. "The two main ones were Federal Aviation Agency requirements and connecting to the existing electric grid. Through those concerns, we have been working with some partners to do a smaller scale project, a pilot project, which would take care of those two issues while also familiarizing the airport with solar power, generating our own power, and selling that power back to utility companies."