Air Transport World

Hauling a half million passengers nine at a time: Cape Air operates in a niche of its choosing, serving the coastal area of Massachusetts and the resort areas of Florida and the Caribbean.(Company Profile)

The Cessna 402 cuts through the fog off Cape Cod, breaks through to the pale blue sky underneath and the pilot makes a perfect landing on the runway at Barnstable Municipal Airport. When the props stop spinning, a ramp agent moves quickly to open the door and help passengers alight onto the tarmac. A young woman with a baby in a bulky car seat climbs out. "Here, let me carry that," says the agent as he walks backward to protect the tiniest passenger from the stiff wind blowing off the water.

Welcome to Cape Air/Nantucket Airlines, an independently owned Regional that operates a fleet of 50 nine-seat Cessna 402 piston twins and is entrenched firmly in its niche in the coastal area of Massachusetts and resort areas in Florida and the Caribbean.

It is a bit of an anachronism in an age in which Regionals can't unload their turboprops fast enough and are standing in line to add spanking new RJs to increase capacity and stage length and provide seamless service with Major partners. Cape Air employees are quick to point out that in a 402, every seat is an aisle and window seat, and if you get there early enough you can sir in the right seat next to the pilot.

Cape Air flies from Boston and Providence to New Bedford, Martha's Vineyard, Nantucket, Hyannis and Provincetown. During the winter season when the tourist business is off at the Cape, 12 to 15 of the aircraft are reassigned to connect Tampa, Naples, Ft. …

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