January 16, 2022 by Aaron Cerbone

LAKE CLEAR — The Adirondack Regional Airport will start nonstop, round-trip flights to John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City in the near future, Airport Manager Corey Hurwitch said Friday.

“It’s exciting,” he said. “(JFK) offers even more connection possibilities than Boston, plus access to the city. … Our area sees way more visitors from New York City than Boston, so we really hope this will be successful.”

The contract between Adirondack Regional Airport (SLK) and Cape Air was set to expire in late February. The airport is part of the federal Department of Transportation’s Essential Air Service program, Hurwitch said, which provides funding for rural airports and gives them access to the national air transportation system.

Because the contract was set to expire, the DOT solicited new contract proposals. There were two contract proposals — one from Cape Air and one from Boutique Air.

The Cape Air contract was preferred by town officials, community members and Hurwitch, but was also a lower-cost contract for the DOT’s subsidy.

Cape Air has had a contract at SLK since 2008, Hurwitch said, and has known that the community has been asking for flights to JFK.

“Usually JFK slots are next to impossible to get,” Hurwitch said. “But, I think partly because of COVID, some airlines cut back some services.”

Hurwitch said this new four-year contract will convert one of SLK’s three daily flights to Boston-Logan International Airport into a flight to JFK. He said JFK has 184 direct destinations in 79 different countries.

Hurwitch said these flights could start as early as March, but said it could take longer because a lot goes into setting up these new flight routes.

The DOT will provide more than between $2.5 and $2.8 million in subsidies per year throughout the contract, for a total of around $10 million in federal funds.

North country Rep. Elise Stefanik has long advocated for increased funding for the EAS, according to a press release from her office.

“I am proud to announce that Cape Air has been selected to continue their Essential Air Service for our North Country communities,” Stefanik said. “I advocate for this critical program every year to provide our North Country residents with convenient and more accessible travel, as well as attract tourists to our region.”

Hurwitch said Cape Air also plans to start flying the Tecnam P2012 Traveller in and out of SLK. It’s a new aircraft that Hurwitch said is roomier and more comfortable than the current plane. The new plane seats nine passengers, too, but also includes up-to-date instrumentation for the pilots, USB ports, leather seats and LED lighting.

Hurwitch said these planes have flown through SLK in the past and they handle well in winter weather.

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