Portland-based SeaPort Airlines is among five companies seeking a U.S. Department of Transportation contract to provide service in Cape Girardeau, Mo.

The Cape Girardeau Regional Airport last had reliable air service in 2006, when nearly 8,000 passengers boarded flights, stated the Southeast Missourian newspaper. Through the end of last month just 404 passengers boarded flights this year offered by Great Lakes Airlines.

Great Lakes did not seek to renew its contract in Cape Girardeau. That contract expires Nov. 1.

The proposals all seek subsidies under the Essential Air Service Program, a federally funded effort to support passenger service for smaller communities. Cape Girardeau's service was offered in a package with Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., Decatur, Ill., Marion-Herrin, Ill., Quincy, Ill., and Burlington, Iowa. Airlines were allowed to bid on one, some or all of the contracts.

SeaPort asked for the lowest subsidy, $1.1 million. Others' estimates ranged up to $2.2 million.

The Department of Transportation has set a Sept. 16 deadline to receive community recommendations about the choice of carriers.

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