Allegiant Air will be discontinuing service to and from the Owensboro-Daviess County Regional Airport after the flight occurring on May 29, 2023. Any passenger that has purchased travel beyond May 29 will receive a full refund from Allegiant Air.
This news comes after more than 14 years of service to and from OWB. Officials said Allegiant informed the airport board that due to various economic factors including rising fuel prices along with crew and aircraft availability, they will no longer be able to provide service from OWB.
“We are disappointed in Allegiant’s decision to leave Owensboro. We have enjoyed a 14-year relationship and welcome the opportunity to have discussions with them to return to OWB in the future. We wish them the best moving forward,” said Doug Hoyt, OWB Airport Board Chair.
Allegiant recognized OWB’s efforts throughout the 14-year partnership and complimented the staff and airport’s hard work, dedication, and low cost over the years, officials said.
“Although it is disappointing that Allegiant will be leaving, we will continue to work hard towards recruiting other airlines to provide service to the Owensboro-Daviess County community,” said Airport Director Tristan Durbin.
Officials said OWB will continue to stay in touch with Allegiant as well as other airlines for future opportunities for service options from OWB.
OWB will continue to provide Essential Air Service (EAS) to St. Louis and Nashville until the Department of Transportation selects a carrier to serve OWB. In January, the airport board recommended Contour Airlines as their new EAS provider.
If approved, the jet service Contour would offer daily direct flights between OWB and Charlotte-Douglas International Airport — which is among the largest hubs in the country.
By moving on from Cape Air, OWB would cease their daily flights to St. Louis and Nashville.
The Cape Air contract was originally set to expire at the end of 2023. However, high inflation was causing the airline to lose money on their service in Owensboro and two other cities. In late 2022, Cape Air filed a motion to terminate their service early — but that was mostly a formality as flight schedules and ticket fares have remained the same (and they will continue until the new EAS contract is finalized).
Cape Air was allowed to submit a bid for a new contract in hopes of getting a higher subsidy. Their proposal was to continue forward with the same flights currently offered: two round trip flights between OWB and Nashville daily, and one round trip between OWB and St. Louis daily.
However, the board said the bid submitted by Contour Airlines was superior in several facets — including an upgraded plane and a vastly larger hub.
Contour’s proposal is a 3-year contract that includes 1-2 round-trip flights per day between OWB and Charlotte.
The airline offers jet service — meaning a twin-engine jet compared to a prop plane like Cape Air uses. Their jets seat 30 passengers in a 2-by-1 configuration and feature 36” of seat pitch in every row.
Contour is an interline partner with American Airlines. That means passengers don’t have to re-check bags if they connect from a Contour to an American flight. Travelers also have the ability to ticket seamlessly from their originating airport and through a connecting hub to global destinations. One checked bag also flies free with Contour.
Southern Airways Express also submitted a proposal to be the EAS provider, but the board agreed Contour’s offer was better than Southern or Cape Air.
The airport board gave their recommendation to the Department of Transportation, which makes the final decision on choosing the provider. Durbin said the DOT takes into account the board’s recommendation.
Durbin said the Department of Transportation is still in the approval process but thinks a decision may be made by the first or second week of April. Durbin said if a new carrier is chosen, he expects their start date to be mid-summer.