Elite Airways (7Q, Portland, ME) may lose subsidies worth USD75,000 which it currently enjoys at Naples, FL airport after the airline suspended direct flights to Newark, reports The Naples Daily News.

Under the terms of a contract signed last February, Elite Airways agreed to offer regular scheduled flights to a major hub. In exchange, the Naples Airport Authority waived terminal rent and provided ground-service assistance, to a value of about USD24,000. Additionally, the authority spent USD50,000 on marketing for Elite.

When it was penned, the agreement marked the first commercial flights out of Naples since 2007. From February 27, Elite offered a weekly nonstop flight to Newark, a twice-weekly service to Newark via Vero Beach, and a twice-weekly service to Portland, ME via Melbourne, FL using its fleet of Bombardier CRJ-200 and CRJ-700 aircraft. The Newark route was cancelled in June, due to low passenger numbers.

Although the term 'major hub' was not specifically defined, the Authority believes that the cancellation of the direct Newark route means that Elite has reneged on the contract and is no longer entitled to the subsidies.

Elite President John Pearsall has said that Elite's 2x weekly service to Melbourne, with connections to Portland, ME and Islip Long Island, NY, sufficiently serve the Northeast within the terms of the agreement. The Newark flight, he says, was under too much pressure from major carriers out of nearby Fort Myers Southwest Florida, located just 43 kilometres away.

The Airport Authority and Pearsall will meet later this month to evaluate the service and come to a decision.

The only other scheduled service from Naples at present is a four times weekly Cessna (single piston) service to Miami Int'l offered by ExecAir of Naples (Naples, FL).