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Debate continues over airline service
February 25, 2011
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  • The U.S. Senate this week rejected an amendment to the Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization bill that would have repealed the Essential Air Service program that subsidizes Jackson’s commercial passenger air service.

    But the House of Representatives still could approve a version of the bill that would eliminate the program. The House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure this week approved a version that would phase out the program over four years.

    Eliminating the Essential Air Service program would almost certainly mean Jackson’s commercial air service would be terminated. The program provides $2.2 million a year in subsidies to TennesseeSkies, which offers three flights a day from McKellar-Sipes Tennessee Skies began operating in August 2009. Prior to that, Jackson had no commercial air service for about 18 months.

    Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., voted against the Senate amendment proposed by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.

    “This represents a tiny part of the budget, but is a critical service for the citizens of Jackson and West that will create jobs,” Alexander said.

    The FAA Reauthorization bill was approved by the Senate without the amendment.

    “I supported the FAA Reauthorization bill because it makes it easier and safer to travel by modernizing air-traffic control and security,” Alexander said. “I am pleased that the bill passed the Senate without the fight we had last year over whether FedEx should be penalized under federal labor laws.”

    Alexander also voted for an amendment that passed 98-0 which would make it a federal crime to distribute images taken by airport full-body scanners.

    Two other proposed amendments were defeated along party lines, according to a news release from Alexander’s office.

    Alexander voted in favor of an amendment that would have prohibited employees of the Transportation Security Administration from forming a union with collective-bargaining rights. That amendment failed 47-51.

    Alexander also supported an amendment offered by Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., that would have reduced spending by the FAA to 2008 levels. It also was defeated 47-51.

    Source: JACKSON SUN
    Date: 2011-02-19