EL CENTRO â€“ Subsequent to receiving a â€œFinal Order Terminating Eligibilityâ€ letter from the U.S. Department of Transportation advising on the possible termination of Imperial Countyâ€™s Essential Air Services, the Imperial County Board of Supervisors held a special meeting Tuesday afternoon and voted unanimously to approve and authorize the countyâ€™s CEO to submit a Petition for Waiver to DOT seeking to retain flight services at the Imperial County Airport.
On August 29, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) issued a tentative order to terminate Imperial County Airportâ€™s Essential Air Services (EAS) eligibility, along with 22 other communities, for failing to meet â€œan average of ten enplanements per day, during the most recent fiscal yearâ€ and for exceeding â€œper passenger subsidiary amountâ€ of $200.
â€œFortunately, communities subject in the tentative order may petition DOT for a waiver of the enplanement requirement, if the community can demonstrate that the reason the location averages fewer than ten enplanements per day is due to a temporary decline in enplanements,â€ said Ralph Cordova Jr., Imperial County executive director.
Ryan N. Hall, Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) Regional Aviation Planning specialist, agreed to assist in preparing the petition for the waiver. After reviewing the EAS standards, he advised the board that it was determined the requirements were not met and was confident the DOT would reconsider the countyâ€™s petition.
Rob McKinney, Mokulele Airlines president, was present during Tuesdayâ€™s meeting and provided an overview of the airline’s flight services to date and assured the board the months DOT used determined the Imperial County Airport did not meet the average enplanements, but included the gap time from the closure of Seaport Airlines to the day Mokulele commenced services. McKinney was the president of Seaport Airlines during its tenure in the Valley.
â€œWe are well over the ten enplanements per day, which Seaport was really never able to do,â€ said McKinney. â€œThe reason why we are successful is LAX is a superior hub than Burbank in meeting the needs of the community.â€
McKinney also pointed out Mokulele has not cancelled any flights since they began servicing the county and said they have completed 99 percent of scheduled flights with a 90 percent of on-time flights.
â€œWe have a compelling story to tell,â€ said McKinney. â€œLet the next chapter be a waiver.â€
Furthermore, McKinney expressed Mokuleleâ€™s interest in expanding air service to Mexicali claiming it is a big market they would like to explore.
Mokulele Airlines began services in Imperial County on May 23,Â subsequent to the unexpected closure of Seaport Airlines on January 15.
The family-owned and operated airline has quadrupled daily flights since 2011 when Hansen purchased the airline from Mesa Airlines. Mokulele has been in business since 1994 and is based at the Kona International Airport with approximately 250 employees.