Air Transport World

CAB opens EAS door to jets. (Civil Aeronautics Board, Essential Air Service)

Public debates calling for change in Civil Aeronautics Board-managed Essential Air Service programs have risen to higher levels of intensity. This surge of attention results from CAB's recent invitation to jet airlines serving Southern California to enter bids on EAS community service points where others have defaulted.

At presstime it was not known what direction CAB may take in selecting new carriers to serve these communities, but it was clear that CAB felt six successive failures in this area by commuter carriers was enough to open the door to proposals from the larger jet operators.

Patrick Murphy, associate director of CAB's bureau of domestic aviation, told ATW that the demise of Pacific Express via the Chapter 11 route to bankruptcy was the act that broke the Board's position of preference for commuter level service.

In response, commuter carries are quick to emphasize that Pacific Express was not a representative commuter operator to the extent stated by the CAB. It operated BAC 1-11 jets and, just prior to folding, leased two Boeing 737 jets.

The general feeling expressed by many industry authorities familiar with the circumstances was that Pacific Express "had stars in its eyes and wanted to be too big, too fast."

The Regional Airline Association took issue with views expressed by CAB's Murphy when he said, "There' far more instability in California in terms of commuter type carriers than anywhere else in the country. …

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