Press Release

Gillibrand Fights Attempt To Eliminate Essential Air Service – Urges Senate To Pass Faa Bill With $73 Million Increase In Program

Feb 4, 2011

Washington, D.C. – As the Senate debates the FAA Reauthorization Bill, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today is fighting a proposal to eliminate Essential Air Service (EAS) and is urging her colleagues in the Senate to pass a $73 million increase for the program. The EAS program subsidizes service at small airports and provides communities with better air service. Currently, more than 150 communities rely on EAS for access to the nation’s air transportation system. In New York, six airports depend on this critical program: Chautauqua County-Jamestown Airport, Massena International Airport, Ogdensburg International Airport, Plattsburgh International Airport, Adirondack Regional Airport, and Watertown International Airport.

“Access to air travel is critical for our economic recovery. Losing this funding would be devastating for many communities across the state. Businesses cannot grow if we do not provide communities in every corner of New York with adequate air service,” Senator Gillibrand said. “The Essential Air Service Program is a vital lifeline for smaller airports across rural New York. It promotes economic growth and job creation in many communities that desperately need it.”

Senator Gillibrand has advocated for increased investment in the EAS Program. While the FAA Reauthorization Bill includes an additional $73 million to $200 million for EAS, Senator John McCain (R-AZ) has introduced an amendment that would cut all funding for this critical program.


Current Funding

McCain Amendment

Total With Increase*

















Saranac Lake/Lake Placid








New York State Total




*Estimates based on 57 percent increase in program funding.

Data from the U.S. Department of Transportation

In 1978, Congress passed the Airline Deregulation Act (ADA) despite concerns raised at that time regarding the effect it would have on air service to small communities. The EAS program was established to guarantee that communities served by air carriers prior to deregulation would continue to have commercial air service, preventing the loss of a vital mode of transportation that would result in economic harm to rural communities. Access to adequate air service has become imperative to the success of our local economies. However, rural communities have struggled to retain or attract commercial airline service. Senator Gillibrand is working to permanently extend this program since it is crucial for access to transportation in small communities and rural areas.