The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

New airliner flying to Denver


February 12, 2020

CLOVIS — The Clovis Municipal Airport will have a new carrier beginning May 1. It’s not the one city commissioners approved in October and Dallas is not its destination.

The U.S. Department of Transportation has awarded Key Lime Air of Denver a two-year Essential Air Service contract for an annual subsidy of $4.4 million. The new carrier will provide Clovis passengers travel to and from Denver International Airport.

DOT also extended the contract of Boutique Air, which provides service between Clovis and Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, but only until April 30.

The city had submitted an Alternate Essential Air Service proposal with service to DFW provided through Contour Airlines.

In selecting Key Lime, the DOT noted the company has an agreement with United Airlines at Denver and meets community desires that include the ability to transport military personnel and use of aircraft with 30 or fewer seats due to the Clovis airport’s operating certificate.

In not selecting the city’s preference, the DOT didn’t see the conditions it normally does when going the Alternate EAS route.

“Typically, AEAS applications for public charter service are approved when there is a lack of other viable air service options that meet basic EAS requirements and/or the community’s needs,” the order said. “In this case, the Department received proposals that satisfy basic EAS requirements and addressed the needs articulated by the City of Clovis in support of its AEAS application.”

City Commissioner Rube Render, who chaired the committee recommending service, said he believed the two prime factors in the decision were going to be cost and “what the community wanted. We don’t have a clue why (DOT) did what they did.”

City Manager Justin Howalt said the committee certainly hadn't anticipated the DOT would make a different choice, but that the DOT still accomplished the main point of connecting Clovis to a major connection point.

"While it may not suit as a 'final destination' preference, DIA provides access to a major regional and international hub for customers who are seeking to travel within the larger air service network," Howalt said. "I am optimistic that the public will utilize this option to access the wider air service system as they did the DFW option."

Other carriers that had expressed interest in Clovis were SkyWest Airlines and Advanced Air Charters.

Commissioners last year had used a point system to select Contour as its first choice, followed by Sky West.

A survey promoted last October by the Clovis/Curry County Chamber of Commerce indicated a heavy preference for DFW (1,370) over Denver (781), Albuquerque (743) and Houston (371). The 2,190 respondents were allowed to pick multiple options.


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