FALLS CREEK — Bids are being solicited for Essential Air Service at DuBois Regional Airport, according to Manager Bob Shaffer.

Shaffer, at the recent Clearfield-Jefferson Counties Regional Airport Authority’s teleconference meeting, said the airport received notice in April from the U.S. Department of Transportation that the DuBois airport and the airport in Morgantown, West Virginia were paired.

“That’s a little bit unique. The other airports have kind of been done separately — Altoona and Bradford and in Johnstown, but we were paired with Morgantown,” said Shaffer.

Every two years, the EAS goes out for bid to select an airline to serve the DuBois Regional Airport. Southern Airways is the DuBois’ airport’s current EAS.

So far, Shaffer said the DuBois Regional Airport has heard from several airlines, including Southern Airways, Boutique Airlines and Cape Air Airlines.

The bids, said Shaffer, are due from the airlines to the federal Department of Transportation by May 27. Once those bids are received by the federal DOT, they’ll compile those and turn them around and give them back to the airport authority for its input, he said.

“We’ll have about a 30-day period to look at that,” said Shaffer. “During that 30-day period, the airlines will come back in and discuss their bids and discuss the authority’s thoughts. I can assure you that at that point that each one of the airlines will have an aircraft sitting here for the authority to consider and look at it because that is a high point of making this decision.”

Once the authority comes to a conclusion, it will be able to write a recommendation letter to the federal DOT and explain which one it thinks is best for the community, said Shaffer.

“That is followed up with letters from our local elected officials, the county commissioners, our senators, representatives, both the state and federal,” said Shaffer. “And we’ve always been very privileged and honored to have the support from the community and support of the authorities’ decision and the authorities’ selection, on what they would like to see as the carrier of the airport. The coming weeks will be an interesting time for the authorities.”

The entire process will take most of the summer, said Shaffer.

“I’m guessing sometime in the late August to the first of September timeframe for the airline chosen to actually start operations on Nov. 1,” said Shaffer.

The current contract with Southern runs through Oct. 31, and should another airline be selected and not be able to start immediately on Nov. 1, the federal DOT would require Southern to continue its operations until the new airline is ready to start.

“There’s no concern with loss of service or a change if there were a change in the airline,” said Shaffer.

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