For the first time since the Essential Air Service subsidy program began more than 3 decades ago, Chadron and Alliance will be served by different airlines.
The federal Dept of Transportation has granted Chadron’s request that current carrier Boutique Airlines be awarded a new 2 year contract and has approved Alliance’s choice of KeyLime, which flies as the Denver Air Connection. Both contracts begin this summer.
Chadron City Manager Greg Yanker says the decision last week by the DOT to split the traditional circle route came as a surprise to both him and Boutique officials, even though both airlines had submitted proposals to serve each city separately.
Yanker says he has no idea how the flight schedules for Chadron and Alliance will be affected by separating the route, but hopes to get a better idea after talking to Boutique officials on Thursday.
Boutique currently has 4 daily flights to Chadron-Alliance Monday-Friday, with the last flight from Denver serving only Chadron. The airline has also opened an aircraft maintenance facility at the Chadron airport.
Alliance Airport Director Lynn Placek says her city decided to go with KeyLime in part because the strong passenger numbers from Chadron have left fewer seats for Alliance fliers.
Denver Air Connect’s planes also have higher baggage limits than the planes flown by Boutique.
Passenger totals for Alliance and Chadron are up more than 200% since Boutique began serving them in July 2015 with more than 5,500 enplanements in Chadron and almost 2,500 in Alliance in 2017.