After nearly a year's hiatus, Small Community Airlines is again actively pursuing certification by federal regulators.
The company anticipates flying its first route in about six months.
Based at Dallas Love Field, the carrier seeks to fly to small Texas and Louisiana communities with its BAe Jetstream 3100.
Small Community is trying a different business model, says General Manager Kenneth Gardner. "We are interested only in public/private partnerships."
It is looking for direct investments by airports to underwrite the costs of the service and to actively market the service.
Gardner will not be competing for Essential Air Service contracts as they are limiting for both carrier and the airport.
The carrier has lined up its first public partner, Lake Charles Regional Airport, in southwest Louisiana. According to its pro forma financial statements filed with DOT, Small Community anticipates receiving $100,000 from Lake Charles. The company has obtained a $650,000 loan from One World Bank, of Dallas, and Lewis McPherson, its president and sole stockholder, has provided $50,000 in start-up capital. The company is carrying eight to 10 employees on its payroll as it awaits final certification. (Click here to review the DOT docket for Small Community Airlines.)
While it wants to grow beyond the Lake Charles routes, Gardner says the company will not be establishing any other routes prior to its certification.
In an interview with AirportBusiness.com, Gardner admits that two sides do not have signed contacts. Each side has a contract that will be signed once the carrier has obtained its federal certificates.
Small Community may be overstating its relationship with Lake Charles, says Heath Allen, the airport's deputy director. At one-time the two had a signed agreement until the airport realized that Small Community was not certified.
The package on the table for Small Community, Allen says, is the same available to the first carrier to fly directly to Dallas. It is a no-cash, or in-kind incentive, with the airport waiving landing fees, lease payments and other charges for the first 18 months of commercial service. Some local money will also be spent to promote the service.
However, Gardner explains the unsigned agreement with Lake Charles is similar to those struck by other carriers with local communities. Lake Charles will only be required to pay Small Community if the number of paying passengers falls below Gardner's undisclosed threshold. The contract will also give Small Community the flexibility of cancelling a flight if the demand is too low.
Small Community would make a profit on the Lake Charles route with its 19-seater Jetstream with 600 to 700 passengers a month, Gardner says.
Dallas is the community's first choice for new destinations, Allen says. He wouldn't provide estimated passenger counts because these projections vary by airline.
Small Community may not be certified in time to win the Lake Charles route.
Lake Charles is currently talking with another carrier to provide the service. The airport is "optimistic" that a deal with be struck with this undisclosed carrier, he adds.
The 19-seat Jetstream would be a disadvantage for Small Community in marketing the Dallas route. The 75-minute trip to Dallas would be at the edge of the passenger comfort zone for the aircraft, he adds. However, the direct service might be able to overcome the aircraft's drawbacks.