Cape Air looks for more aicraft to support Caribbean flights

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US regional Cape Air will buy three or four Cessna 402 aircraft this year to bolster service on existing routes, particularly in the Caribbean.

Cape Air will use 22 aircraft in the Caribbean next year as carriers including American Airlines and American Eagle Airlines cut capacity in the region, a Cape Air spokeswoman says.

The company links San Juan, Puerto Rico with Puerto Rican destinations Mayaguez, Ponce and Vieques, as well as Tortola, British Virgin Islands. Cape Air also flies from San Juan to Saint Thomas and St Croix, US Virgin Islands.

Executives are looking at aircraft in Alaska, New Mexico and California, the spokeswoman says, adding aircraft will be in service by the first quarter of 2009,

The carrier currently has 53 Cessna 402s in active use, she says.

Meanwhile, the Hyannis, Massachusetts-based company is preparing to launch new essential air service (EAS) destinations. The carrier will inaugurate daily service from Boston to Rockland, Maine and Lebanon, New Hampshire on 1 November.

Subsidies on those routes are worth $1.52 million and $2.24 million respectively.

Pinnacle Airlines subsidiary Colgan Air previously offered EAS service at Rockland and its flights between Lebanon and New York LaGuardia airport will end on 2 November.

Cape Air will also offer EAS destinations formerly served by now defunct Big Sky Airlines: Massena, Ogdensburg and Watertown, New York. Service to those cities from Albany, New York will begin on 16 September.