The US Department of Transportation (DOT) says it has selected PenAir (KS, Anchorage Ted Stevens) to provide Essential Air Services (EAS) at the Nebraskan towns of Kearney, North Platte, and Scottsbluff over a two-year period running from November 1, 2016, through to October 31, 2018. Incumbent operator Great Lakes Airlines' contract is set to expire on October 30 of this year.

Under the terms of its contract, the Alaskan operator will provide multiple-weekly services from each of the towns to Denver Int'l using Saab 340B equipment. Kearney will be served 14x weekly for an average annual subsidy of USD3,540,348 while North Platte and Scottsbluff will both be served with 12x weekly services. In the former's case, the average annual subsidy is USD2,305,893 while in the latter's it is USD2,245,533.

Other operators that submitted proposals included: ViaAir (VC, Orlando Int'l), Elite Airways (7Q, Portland, ME), ADI Aerodynamics (4A, Pontiac), Key Lime Air (KG, Denver Centennial), and Boutique Air (4B, San Francisco, CA).

However, in the end, the three towns settled on Pen Air citing its global reservation platform, code-share and interline ticketing and baggage agreements. The carrier's strong track record at other its other EAS contracts (Crescent City, California, Bar Harbor and Presque Isle, Maine, and Plattsburgh Int'l, New York) was also cited given the traveling public's previous poor experiences with Great Lakes.