“We are replacing Cape Air. The schedules will be similar, the aircraft are similar,” Sun Air International President Thomas Cooper said.
The one major difference: Sun Air will fly to Washington, D.C.’s Dulles International Airport, he said. Cape Air has been flying to Baltimore/Washington International Airport.
Sun Air is aiming for an Oct. 15 changeover, “but that’s not completely cast in stone,” Cooper said.
Sun Air provides scheduled and charter service between Fort Lauderdale and the Bahamas. Lancaster and Hagerstown are its first forays outside that market, Cooper said. The company plans to offer introductory one-way fares of $40, he said.
Massachusetts-based Cape Air, which has served Lancaster since 2009, decided earlier this year to pull out of both the Lancaster and Hagerstown, Md., markets. Officials at both airports sought replacement carriers.
At one point, Las Vegas-based Allegiant Air expressed interest in coming to Lancaster. However, Allegiant’s large aircraft, which seat more than 150, were not a good fit for the airport, and Lancaster never heard back from the company after submitting its last proposal, executive director David Eberly said.
Instead, Allegiant announced this morning it would begin service this fall between Harrisburg International Airport and Florida.
Carriers serving Lancaster and Hagerstown are eligible for federal Essential Air Service subsidies, which help make the flights economically feasible. The Department of Transportation recently approved just under $4.3 million in annual subsidies for Sun Air to fly the two routes, Cooper and Eberly said.
Sun Air is planning a seamless transition with Cape Air and is considering hiring some of their local employees, Cooper said.
“Cape Air does such a good job,” he said. “We’re going to have to really work hard to match their level of service.”