Cape Air to start Block Island flights May 22Seasonal service from Providence and New York
Regional airline company Cape Air has announced that its new service, which will offer daily flights between Block Island and T.F. Green Airport in Warwick and between Block Island and Westchester County Airport in New York, will begin on May 22, the Thursday before Memorial Day weekend.
The flights will be seasonal and will run until mid-October, according to Cape Air spokeswoman Trish Lorino. In the winter season, scheduled flights will run between two islands in Puerto Rico.
Cape Air plans to run three round-trips per day to each location, Providence and New York. Lorino said the schedule and ticket prices will vary depending on the date. For example, Lorino said flights on Memorial Day will be $72 one-way but weekdays that see less of a demand could cost as low as $48 one-way. Trips are expected to take about 35 minutes from Warwick and about an hour from New York.
“The schedule is demand-based,” Lorino said. “We want to provide a schedule that is convenient for customers, and also take into consideration the timing of other major airlines, to make sure they adequately match up for appropriate connections.”
Lorino said Cape Air has ticketing and baggage agreements with other major airlines. This means someone can book a flight from San Francisco to T.F Green, and then fly to Block Island using Cape Air’s service, with their baggage and tickets only being checked once.
For its New York service, Cape Air also offers ground transportation between Westchester County Airport to 35th Street and 8th Avenue in midtown Manhattan.
“You have the option of going from Block Island to Westchester, and tak[ing] ground transportation into Manhattan, and vice-versa. We’re pretty confident Block Island will benefit from this as well,” Lorino said.
Block Island’s Tourism Council Executive Director Jessica Willi weighed in on the new service.
“I’m happy to see the service is finally starting,” said Willi. “Anything that makes Block Island more accessible to a different audience is generally felt by the Tourism Council to be a good thing. Someone in California or Florida can go online and book a trip thru Expedia or Jet Blue, and Block Island is in the system. The online presence of Block Island goes through the roof.”
Willi continued, “We hope Cape Air will be successful. Hopefully it’s not at the expense of other established businesses that help us year-round.”
Local airline company New England Airlines operates year-round flights between Block Island and Westerly, R.I.
“We have been concerned about the process from the beginning, because of the obvious effect on us,” commented Bill Bendokas, owner of New England Airlines.
The seasonal service is being started with a $900,000 grant. In August 2012, the Rhode Island Department of Transportation (DOT) awarded a grant to the Rhode Island Airport Corporation (RIAC) and its partners, Cape Air and the Puerto Rico tourism board.
The federal grant, which ensures that Cape Air won’t lose money on the experimental service, lasts for two years.
Cape Air has now acquired four airplanes, all Britten Norman Islanders. The Britten-Norman Islander is a nine passenger, high-wing, twin-engine aircraft with the capability to land on short runways — such as Block Island’s, which limits the type of aircraft that can land.
Cape Air also operates seasonal, daily flights to Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard from T.F. Green and Westchester County airports.
“After several years of collaboration with the Rhode Island Airport Corporation, we are thrilled to be able to start seasonal, scheduled service to Block Island,” said Cape Air President Linda Markham in a press release. “Cape Air specializes in connecting passengers to some of the most desirable destinations in the U.S. and Caribbean — Block Island fits our model perfectly.”
Cape Air is taking reservations for this season. Passengers can book their flights to Block Island by visiting capeair.com, or by calling 800-CAPE-AIR.