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Empty seats plague in-state commuter flights

July 17, 2008
Cape Air plans to end commuter flights between South Bend and Indianapolis just eight months after they began, and flights between Evansville and Indianapolis are under a cloud, too.

The Massachusetts company will stop flying from South Bend in September because St. Joseph County Airport is cutting off a subsidy, according to the Evansville Courier & Press. The flights, which must be 70-percent full in order for Cape Air to make a profit, have peaked at 40-percent full.

The airport has forked over a total of $800,000 in subsidies with the help of a $500,000 federal grant. Some of the subsidies went to Chicago Express, an airline owned by ATA Airlines, the Indianapolis-based carrier that went bankrupt and ultimately out of business.

Cape Air flights out of Evansville aren't carrying enough passengers, either. Half the seats are full, short of the 65 percent needed for a profit.

"It's not where it needs to be to be self-sustaining, Evansville-Vanderburgh Regional Airport Marketing Director Dianna Kissel told the newspaper.

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