East Coast airline Cape Air will provide subsidized Essential Air Service to Eastern Montana under a federal contract issued Thursday.
Glasgow, Glendive, Havre, Sidney and Wolf Point will receive direct flights to Billings via Cape Air beginning Dec. 1. The communities several weeks ago unanimously identified Cape Air as their preferred provider. Thursday, the U.S. Department of Transportation approved a two-year, $11.9 million subsidy for the service.
Under the contract, Sidney will receive 34 nonstop round-trip flights to Billings per week, while Glendive will receive 13 and the other communities will receive 14 each.
The communities are currently serviced by Silver Airways, a company that won the EAS contract in 2011 but declined to bid on a new contract this year. Silver Airways will continue offering flights until October 26, according to DOT documents.
Cape Air, of Hyannis, Mass., will use nine-seat Cessna 402 planes to serve each community. The Cessna model is the same that the now-defunct Big Sky Airlines originally used before converting to larger Fairchild Metro and Beechcraft planes to service the communities until. Big Sky Airlines ended operation in 2008.
Cape Air will be the third airline in six years to provide air service to remote Montana communities otherwise not serviced by commercial flights.