Great Lakes Airlines (ZK, Cheyenne) along with Boutique Air (4B, San Francisco, CA) and Mokulele Airlines (MHO, Kona) have submitted separate proposals to the US Department of Transportation (DOT) concerning the Visalia and El Centro Imperial Country Essential Air Services contracts that were vacated by SeaPort Airlines (K5, Portland Int'l) late last month.

In its proposal, Great Lakes proposed a double-daily return service (weekdays) coupled with two weekend roundtrips to its Los Angeles Int'l hub from each of the Californian towns. The flights, which would be on-board Beech 1900D turboprops, would benefit from Great Lakes' interline e-ticketing agreements with American Airlines (AA, Dallas/Fort Worth), Delta Air Lines (DL, Atlanta Hartsfield Jackson) (with the ability to earn Delta Skymiles) and United Airlines (UA, Chicago O'Hare) the airline said. For its El Centro service, Great Lakes quoted an annual subsidy of USD3,200,227 while for Visalia it is asking for USD2,611,510.

In its proposal, Boutique Air offered twenty-four weekly return flights from Visalia to Los Angeles Int'l and either Oakland or Sacramento Executive using its fleet of PC-12 turboprops. It quoted an annual subsidy of USD3,517,077 for its Los Angeles/Oakland combination while Los Angeles/Sacramento amounted to USD3,685,196. Concerning El Centro, Boutique Air plans to offer twenty-four weekly return flights to Los Angeles Int'l (with the option of a daily Phoenix Sky Harbor service) for a total annual subsidy of USD3,817,747.

In its proposal, Mokulele proposed forty-eight weekly return services from each of El Centro and Visalia to Los Angeles Int'l with subsidies for a two-year contract amounting to USD2,240,634.48 and USD2,128,169 respectively. Operations are on-board Cessna (single turboprop) Grand Caravan 208 aircraft. The airline does, however, warn that it considers service to El Centro and Visalia as inseparable and that should the DOT only select Mokulele for only one community, the subsidy rate will need to increase by USD200,000 per year in order to offset higher maintenance costs.

The EAS contracts' previous operator SeaPort Airlines withdrew its services on January 15 citing an ongoing shortage of suitably qualified flightcrews.