MOUNT ALTON — The U.S. Department of Transportation has selected Southern Airways Express, the current airline, to continue providing Essential Air Service at the Bradford Regional Airport.

The two-year contract expires in November 2022.

Essential Air Service is a federal program that guarantees small communities maintain commercial air service. A subsidy is provided to the airlines that prevents the service from operating at a loss.

In a report to the Bradford Regional Airport Authority Wednesday morning, Airport Manager Alicia Dankesreiter said that jet fuel sales have increased, due in large part to the Boeing 737 that has brought basketball teams to play at St. Bonaventure University. “This has been a pleasant surprise since we didn’t expect to see any planes of that size here,” she said.

Ryan Dach, Bradford Station Manager and Southern’s manager of stations, gave the December airline report, which showed 128 enplanements and 132 deplanements for a daily average of 4.8 passengers. He said a lot of that was due to the Pitt-Bradford students going home for Thanksgiving, and then not returning, as they were studying in virtual sessions.

Eighty-six percent of the scheduled 107 flights were completed. Fourteen were cancelled due to weather; two due to maintenance.

Southern’s Chief Operations Officer Mark Cestari was also present at this meeting. He noted that the COVID-19 pandemic, and directives from the Centers for Disease Control and Pennsylvania’s governor delayed the start of service from Bradford to Dulles International Airport in Washington, D.C. “They have had a chilling effect on holiday travel,” he said.

“Luckily, though, we’re in a good cash position and haven’t had to lay off employees like the big airlines.”

While Cestari noted the recent resignation of the U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao. He said President-Elect Joe Biden’s nominee to replace her, Pete Buttigieg, is interested in mass transit and electric cars, but has no background in aviation. “We hope he doesn’t interfere with the EAS program,” he said.

Brian Wolfel of GAI Consultants, the airport’s engineering firm, spoke about a problem with the regulator on the terminal’s boiler system.

In personnel matters, John Satterwhite, authority secretary, was reappointed to a five-term.

One vacancy exists on the authority. Ron Dankesreiter of Cameron County resigned last year.

Authority Chairman Cliff Lane appointed a nominating committee chaired by Rob Huber.