Administration Budget Would Remove 65 Airports from the Essential Air Service Program
By Jim Berard (202) 226-5064
April 27, 2007
The Bush Administration’s plan to cut funding for the Essential Air Service program would remove 65 small communities from the list of eligible airports, and that has drawn fire from the leadership of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. T&I Chairman James L. Oberstar (Minn.), Aviation Subcommittee Chairman Jerry F. Costello (Ill.), and Rep. Peter A. DeFazio (Ore.), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Highways and Transit and a member of the Aviation panel, voiced their protests after requesting and receiving an updated list of affected airports.
EAS supports commercial air service to small communities where such service is not economically attractive to the airlines. The Administration’s budget proposal would cut funding to nearly half of the 143 communities now in the program. All but 13 of the dropped airports are more than 100 miles from a hub airport; 11 are more than 200 miles away.
This week’s Aviation Subcommittee hearing shed further light on the Administration’s plan to cut Essential Air Service funding by more than half,” said Oberstar. “At the request of the Subcommittee, the Department of Transportation provided detailed information on which communities are at risk of being dropped from the program under this proposal.
Most of these at-risk communities are several hours from the nearest large- or medium-hub airport, and would be left without access to the nation’s air transportation system. The Administration’s proposal would renege on a 30-year commitment by the Federal Government to preserve small community air service in a deregulated environment. The proposal should be rejected.”
“The Bush Administration’s proposal to cut 65 communities, including one in Southern Illinois, out of the Essential Air Service program is simply outrageous and I will do everything I can to make sure it does not happen,” Costello said. “The EAS program is their link to efficient travel options and is critical for economic development. It should remain a priority of the Federal Government.”
“Congress has worked hard over the years to fend off reductions in the Essential Air Service program because adequate air service is vital to the economic viability of small communities,” said DeFazio. “The Administration’s proposed cuts in the EAS program would pull the legs out from under the economies of small communities around the country, and I will fight to maintain this critical funding.”
The list provided to the Committee is a snapshot of the EAS program. The number of airports affected could change depending on changing circumstances that affect each airport’s eligibility to participate. However, as things stand today, 65 airports are in line to be dropped from the program under the Administration’s plan.
The complete list of EAS airports, including those facing elimination from the program, can be found on the T&I Committee’s website: www.house.gov/transportation.