WILLIAMSTOWN -Commercial air service at the Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Airport is again in limbo as the current program ends in October.
One bid has been received by the United States Department of Transportation for service to Cleveland from Silver Airways, which provides four flights a day from the local airport to Cleveland Hopkins International Airport in Cleveland.
The DOT has received two proposals for essential air service (EAS) to airports in Bradford, Pa.; Dubois, Pa.; Franklin/Oil City, Pa.; and Jamestown, N.Y.; with only one of those proposals including the local airport.
The one proposal for all five locations is Silver, which has submitted an all-or-nothing bid with all five airports having to receive the service bid or none will.
"It's not a great scenario," said Terry Moore, manager of the Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Airport. "But, with all five airports on it and it being the only bid for air service, I don't know what will happen."
The bid would continue the local airport with the service the community currently has for an annual EAS subsidy of $10.3 million.
"This worries me," Moore said. "The price has gone up, by my calculations, 4.3 times, and that could hurt us."
Silver closes the bid with this statement: "Silver Airways has proven itself as a dependable Essential Air Service provider and has demonstrated a commitment to work with these communities to address their travel needs. Integrity of service that has been a hallmark of the Silver Airways operation and we look forward to continuing our relationship with all of the fine cities."
The second bid for the four airports, not including the local facility, is an unusual one, Moore said he has never seen.
The bid from TransportAzumah is to provide buses to take passengers from these smaller airports to larger hubs.
"This proposes bus service, which I don't see how that will work," Moore said. "The whole idea of EAS is to keep airports going, and if you take away the air service, it defeats the purpose of the program, I think."
These are the only bids the DOT will receive for the service, which is scheduled to begin Oct. 1. The deadline for bids was June 30.
Silver Airways began providing four weekday flights between the Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Airport and Cleveland Hopkins International Airlines on Oct. 1, 2010, as Gulfstream Air. The airline changed its name last year.
The DOT is in charge of making the decision because the service to the local airports is offered through the DOT's EAS funding program.
While individual airports can make their opinion known, the DOT will make the final decision because the service is federally subsidized.