Enid city commissioners approve resolution to provide subsidy for Mesa Airlines

Wednesday, September 8th 2004, 5:51 am
By: News On 6

ENID, Okla. (AP) _ Mesa Airlines will receive $140,000 over two years to provide commercial air service to the state's eighth-largest city _ but there's a catch.

Enid city commissioners approved a resolution Tuesday to give the Phoenix-based airline $70,000 a year for two years if most of the company's flights arrive and depart on time and if the carrier completes most scheduled flights.

``As much as I don't want to give money to Mesa ... I think it's essential for Enid that we preserve the points that we might get in (base closure rounds,'' Commissioner Daron Rudy said.

City leaders considered frequent complaints by customers about Mesa during weeks of deliberation.

Commissioners will draw up a contract with more specific ridership, marketing and reliability standards Mesa will have to meet.

A subcommittee has already drafted a contract requiring that 95 percent of the flights are completed daily and that 90 percent of them arrive and depart within 30 minutes of their scheduled time.

The airline told Enid, Ponca City and Brownwood, Texas, officials last month that if the communities didn't provide subsidies, the airline may lose its federal subsidy of $1 million per city.

That would force the carrier to cancel air service in those locations, the airline said.

Ponca City has agreed to provide $50,000 over two years for marketing, and Brownwood will provide a $64,000 subsidy per year.

Mesa is awaiting a decision from the U.S. Department of Transportation on whether it will continue to receive its subsidy for the three communities.

A decline in ridership in all three cities has led to an increase in cost per passenger from about $200 to $260. That cost exceeds the federal government's requirements for subsidies to cities within 210 miles of a hub such as Oklahoma City or Tulsa.

Commissioners must have a contract completed before the end of the month, Mayor Ernie Currier said.