American Eagle Airlines has been awarded a two-year contract to fly out of Watertown International Airport, Dexter.
The federal Department of Transportation announced Tuesday that the airline would get $3,047,972 annually to fly 44-seat Embraer ERJ 140 aircraft.
“The mission that we've had since took over the airport facility was to provide jet service to a major hub for residents of this region,” Jefferson County Administrator Robert F. Hagemann III said. “With this announcement, we've accomplished this task, so obviously we're very excited about this news.”
Twelve flights per week, two on each weekday and one each on Saturday and Sunday, will take passengers to Chicago's O'Hare International Airport.
“Finally, we find that American Eagle offers the best opportunity to significantly increase passenger levels and lower subsidy levels in the out years,” the department wrote in its order. “We caution the community, however, that if these twin goals are not attained, we would be inclined to revert to subsidizing 19-seat aircraft at the end of this two-year contract.”
That inclination is based on the subsidy running over a $200 per passenger cap. The department will pay about $324 per passenger.
The earliest date for the service start is June 9, while a back-up is Aug. 26, Mr. Hagemann said. During the interim, Cape Air will continue to offer service to Albany and Boston, he said.
Many ongoing improvements remain to be made at the airport to complement the new service, he said.