Customers review new air service

Staff photo: Joshua Lucero Guests at the Clovis Airport Fly-in & Car Show wait to look inside Boutique Air’s Pilatus PC-12 passenger airplane at the July 9 event. The plane seats nine passengers and makes 18 round-trip flights per week from Clovis to Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport.

By Joshua Lucero
Staff writer
jlucero@cnjonline.com

Smooth flights and personable staff are part of the experience with Boutique Air’s air service, according to Shelly Burger, court manager at the Curry County Courthouse.

Boutique Air’s passenger flights have been in operation out of Clovis Municipal Airport since July 15 under the Department of Transportation’s Essential Air Service program.

The airline has been averaging about three passengers per flight, according to Boutique Air chief executive officer Shawn Simpson.

The short flight time and low air fare appealed to Burger, who said the service is perfect for visiting relatives and making connecting flights.

“It (Boutique Air) is well worth the money,” said Burger, “I didn’t have to be at the airport an hour early and the staff is super nice.”

Staff photo: Joshua Lucero Guests at the Clovis Airport Fly-in & Car Show wait to look inside Boutique Air’s Pilatus PC-12 passenger airplane at the July 9 event. The plane seats nine passengers and makes 18 round-trip flights per week from Clovis to Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport.

Staff photo: Joshua Lucero
Guests at the Clovis Airport Fly-in & Car Show wait to look inside Boutique Air’s Pilatus PC-12 passenger airplane at the July 9 event. The plane seats nine passengers and makes 18 round-trip flights per week from Clovis to Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport.

Burger, who flew on the airline during its second week to see her father, said the hour-and-a-half flight was smooth and comfortable.

In April the DOT approved the air service to provide EAS to passengers in Clovis to Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport for two years.

“It’s convenient for me, I have two kids who don’t like driving to Dallas.” said Burger.

Burger added, “For me, flying into DFW was a big deal.”

According to Burger the flight was relatively quiet and the crew was responsive and helpful before, during, and after the flight.

Burger said that Boutique offers to  transport passengers from the private terminal at DFW to the main terminals if they need to make a connecting flight.

The past two weeks have proven positive for the San Francisco based airline, according to Simpson.

Simpson said the service’s nine-passenger (Boutique currently has the seating configured for eight passengers) Pilatus PC-12 aircraft runs 18 round-trip flights to Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport a week.

“We saw more passengers during our second week of operation,” said Simpson. “As we continue to operate more people will learn about our air service.”

Simpson said the flights currently price the first seats available at $69 one way, but said the introductory price will be going up at the beginning of October.

Simpson said the price of seats will start at $99 after September.

The air service is looking to add Albuquerque to its destinations, but Simpson said the company is still looking into that possibility and won’t know if it’s feasible until the airline has been in service for two to three months.

Simpson said the airline has upcoming flights that have all eight seats filled.

Clovis Municipal Airport Director Gene Bieker said the airline’s destination has more people in the area taking flights.

“It seems like we’ve had more people come take flights than we had with Great Lakes,” Bieker said, referring to the previous air service that operated at the airport under the DOT’s Essential Air Service program.

Bieker said the short flight time and Boutique’s customer service have contributed to the short-term success of the airline.