Panel recommends Southern Airways Express proposal to serve Quincy Regional Airport

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QUINCY (WGEM) – Quincy’s aviation committee has unanimously recommended accepting Southern Airways Express’ proposal.

Panel member Ronald Frillman said the panel weighed cost factors and connection factors to narrow its decision to go with Southern Airways Express, an airline based in Palm Beach, Florida.

“One of the things you had to worry about is that it’s cheaper for me to fly to St. Louis and transfer or drive to St. Louis and park my car for a parking lot of long-term, for a few hundred dollars in long-term parking,” Frillman said.

He said Southern Airways Express had already committed to United Airlines to have a gate in Chicago and St. Louis, while Boutique Air could not confirm when it would get one.

“Southern has connections from Nashville to other places,” Frillman said. “Theoretically, I could fly south from Quincy and connect on their route and go somewhere else.”

The committee ultimately voted in favor of Southern Airways Express, a proposal they say costs a million dollars less than Boutique Air in San Francisco.

“For me it was about what do we need to supply the flying public out of Quincy?” said Frillman. “A very economical way to get from St. Louis to Quincy and from Quincy to Chicago.”

But there was some opposition from committee members Jeff Steinkamp and Orville Jones.

Jones said Boutique Air offered a faster and more comfortable option.

“Because it’s a pressurized plane, it’s automatically air-conditioned, and most of these planes aren’t air-conditioned,” Jones said. “Now once you get to altitude it’s not a big problem, but in the summer when you’re sitting on the tarmac trying to prepare for takeoff it’s a major problem.”

Mayor Mike Troup said some residents are concerned the city will accept either of the single-engine plane proposals.

Jones said as a licensed pilot, a single-engine aircraft is safe.

“One of the sales people mentioned that the single engine is safer than the twin engine because if one of the two engines fails, the plane will flip over,” Jones said. “It just doesn’t happen.”

Quincy Regional Airport acting manager Gabriel Hanafin said that recommendation still needs to be brought to city council on Monday, Aug. 8, before anything else can happen.

Hanafin said if the board approved it, he would draft a formal recommendation to send to the US Department of Transportation.

“Ultimately it’s their decision, the contract is held between them and the airline. So ultimately they can decide to go with Boutique, but they tend to put a lot of weight on what the community is saying,” Hanafin said.

Hanafin said he doesn’t have a specific timeline for when the Federal Aviation Administration will make its final decision.

Hanafin said it usually takes a month or two.

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