Advanced Air (AN, Hawthorne) has secured a four-year contract from the United States Department of Transportation (DOT) to provide Essential Air Service at Merced Macready, California using a 9-seat Pilatus PC-12.

Starting January 1, 2022, through December 31, 2025, Advanced Air will provide a total of 24 weekly flights from Merced of which 12 flights weekly will be to Las Vegas McCarran and 12 to Los Angeles Int'l. A USD14.8 million subsidy will be given for the four-year period. Advanced Air also does not currently interline or codeshare with any other carriers.

A total of four offers were received in addition to Advanced Air from, Boutique Air, Key Lime Air, Denver Air Connection, and Southern Airways Express. Throughout the process, Southern Airways Express dropped out of the following.

Boutique Air, which held the EAS contract previously reapplied with four options. Option 1, split operations to Los Angeles and Sacramento Int'l; Option 2, only service to Los Angeles; Option 3, service to Los Angeles and Monterey and Option 4 service to Los Angeles and Reno/Tahoe. Boutique Air also has a codeshare agreement with United Airlines and an interline agreement with American Airlines.

"The Department notes that selecting Boutique Air’s proposal with 28 round trips per week for a four-year term would represent savings over Advanced Air’s proposal for a four-year term. In this case, a balancing of the details of each proposal, relative subsidy requirements, and community feedback leads the Department to select Advanced Air over Boutique Air," the DOT said.

Boutique Air's contract has been extended from August 1, 2021, to December 31, 2021, in anticipation of Advanced Air commencing the route. If Advanced Air begins service later than expected, Boutique Air is to operate the route until commenced by Advanced air. During the extension period, the carrier will continue to receive the subsidy that it received before.

Founded in 2005, Advanced Air is a Part 135 regional carrier which operates eight Beech (twin turboprop) King Air 350s and eleven Pilatus PC-12s among others. In terms of scheduled operations, it serves various communities in Texas, Arizona, California, and New Mexico.

Editorial Comment: The article has been corrected to reflect that Advanced Air has a Part 135 certificate. - 04.10.2021 - 20:03 UTC