RAA 2015: Cape Air reports record growth in 2014

In 2014 Cape Air went through its largest growth period ever in the history of the business, according to president Linda Markham.The airline carried 750,000 passengers to 44 cities in five operating regions and is now planning further growth with the addition of Cessna C208 Caravan seaplanes to operate between Miami and Bimini.Markham reported that the search for a replacement for the core of the fleet, the Cessna 402, is proceeding but that the airline will take time on due diligence. Manufacturers being considered are Tecnam and AVIC. “We went to China to discuss the Reims 406, which is now owned by AVIC,” Markham reported. “We thought AVIC/Reims might have been a solution, but doing business with China is difficult. We definitely want a twin-engined aircraft though. As for the fleet decision time, I can give no solid answer right now.”Asked whether the new aircraft would change the network, Markham replied that the airline may look for some new niches. “We’re aiming for the re-fleet to have fewer aircraft – about a 15% reduction – but to have better utilisation which will then enable some growth,” she commented.The pilot shortage means Cape Air is “down 25-30 pilots right now”, Markham noted. “It means that two cities – Anguilla and Nevis – are going to switch to seasonal service.” She added that although the company’s Gateway programme is bringing pilots through, it is “not the silver bullet” solution to the shortage.While may Gateway programme graduates move on to JetBlue Airways, the airline does not have any other formal pathway programmes, though Markham admitted, “We have had conversations with United as some of our Micronesia-based pilots have switched to them.”Bernie Baldwin, editor, Low-Fare & Regional Airlines/LARAnews.netCleveland, Ohio

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