State Senator Remains Optimistic on Commercial Air Service Return

Chautauqua County/Jamestown Airport at Robert H. Jackson Field
Chautauqua County/Jamestown Airport at Robert H. Jackson Field

Officials from the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), nearly one year ago, rejected a joint proposal by airline Boutique Air and Chautauqua County to re-establish commercial air service to and from the Jamestown Airport.

New York State Senator George Borrello (R, 57th District), however, said he and other officials continue to work towards obtaining a judgement from the DOT allowing the commercial air-service to return. In addition, Borrello told the Jamestown Gazette during a recent interview that officials have received feedback from the DOT.
“They have yet to give a judgement as to whether or not they will allow us to have commercial air service return,” Borrello said. “However, they were very impressed with the proposal that we put together with the local share, the local support from businesses and organizations.”

“I believe we are still in good position to get air service back. We are just still in a, no pun intended, ‘holding pattern’ until we hear back from the Department of Transportation.”

Borrello said U.S. Congressman Tom Reed (R, 23rd District) “has been extremely influential” in talks with the DOT, labeling him as “the number one supporter” on the talks. The former Chautauqua County Executive also thanked U.S. Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, both Democrats, for their bipartisan support in the matter.

Shawn Simpson, President and CEO of Boutique Airlines, stated his commitment to bringing commercial air service back to Jamestown in a media release in Feb. 2019 from the Chautauqua County Executive’s Office.

“With our recent route expansion into Pittsburgh, Jamestown makes even more sense now for Boutique Airlines,” said Simpson. “Further, our partnerships with United and American Airlines give us an unprecedented level of service and convenience not seen before in Jamestown, or the southern tier of New York.”

“We are disappointed by this decision, but we would like to thank (former) County Executive George Borrello for all of his hard work to bring commercial air service back to Jamestown,” Reed added. “However, the fight is not over, and we will continue to work together as a team to bring commercial air back to Jamestown.”

Borrello also confirmed to the Jamestown Gazette that the Chautauqua County Legislature approved separate contracts with Centric Aviation, a new fixed-based operator (FBO) for both the Jamestown and Dunkirk Airports, with the Legislature’s meeting minutes showing a unanimous approval of both deals. The Senator explained that the move would portray the airports as “viable” hosts for commercial air service.

“It’s good that we were able to put together, the county was able to put together that plan that started when I was still County Executive, and now the contract has been signed,” Borrello said.

The 20-year-deal began Feb. 1 at the Jamestown Airport, according to the Legislature’s official agenda and minutes. Centric Aviation will pay the County a monthly fixed rental fee of $2,500; a fuel flowage fee of $0.15 per gallon of aviation fuel sold, five percent of hangar rental revenue, and five percent of gross revenue received for flight line services.

The agenda also said that a 20-year-deal will start Mar. 1 for the Chautauqua County Dunkirk Airport Mar. 1. Centric Aviation will also pay the County a monthly fixed rental fee of $2,500; a fuel flowage fee of $0.15 per gallon of aviation fuel sold, five percent of hangar rental revenue; and five percent of gross revenue received for flight line services.

While a return of commercial service is far from a guarantee, one thing remains certain. Officials from all levels of government will continue the push towards a return of the service.