New Cape Air President Charts Future

 - May 8, 2013, 3:27 PM
Cape Air's new president Linda Markham is working on the New England carrier's fleet replacement plans. [Photo: Gregory Polek]

New England regional Cape Air has resigned itself to shedding all 70 of its Cessna 402s once it finally reaches terms on an agreement for a new fleet type, the company’s new president Linda Markham told AIN at the RAA Convention in Montreal on Wednesday. Still in talks with Tecnam on a possible acquisition of the P2012 Traveller piston twin as a replacement for the Cessnas, Hyannis, Mass.-based Cape Air also operates a pair of ATR 42-300s in Micronesia for United Airlines and plans next to fly three Britten Norman piston Islanders in the Caribbean. Markham said the airline expects to take the first Islander in August and press it into service in December. Plans call for the three airplanes to fly into Culebra and Virgin Gorda, where short-field requirements preclude the use of the 402s.

Meanwhile, United Airlines, said Markham, would like Cape Air to switch from a pro-rate code-share contract to a capacity purchase agreement; UAL prefers all its regional affiliates to operate under a capacity purchase agreement (CPA), she added. Markham, however, would rather retain the pro-rate deal due to the small size of the operation, she explained.

Appearing for the first time at an RAA show, Markham has led Cape Air since March 28, when she became the only female president of a scheduled airline after serving for 11 years as head of the carrier’s human resources department. Of course, traditionalists might frown on her lack of piloting or mechanical background, but Markham sees it as an advantage. “I think I can approach the job from a more objective perspective…and lend a different viewpoint to the executive committee,” she said.

Before becoming Cape Air’s president, Markham instituted an in-house leadership training program, under which more than 60 percent of the airline’s employees have earned promotions. She also co-founded the CARE Fund, a Cape Air sponsored non-profit organization that provides financial assistance to employees.