Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand joined with her colleagues in the Senate to call for additional funding for the Essential Air Service (EAS) Program. She urged Peter R. Orszag, Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), to make the EAS program a priority, as it is vital in connecting communities across the country.
“We cannot turn this economy around if we do not provide businesses and communities in every corner of New York with adequate access to air travel,” said Senator Gillibrand. “The Essential Air Service Program is a vital part of ensuring critical access in rural New York. It promotes local economic growth and job creation in our communities. I will continue to work with Senator Schumer and the entire Congressional delegation to ensure that New York gets its fair share of federal dollars.”
The EAS program subsidizes service at small airports and provides communities with better air service. Currently, more than 150 communities in the country rely on the EAS program for access to the nation’s air transportation system. In New York, six airports are eligible for this program: Chautauqua County-Jamestown Airport, Massena International Airport, Ogdensburg International Airport, Plattsburgh International Airport, Adirondack Regional Airport, and Watertown International Airport.
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.
In their letter to OMB, the Senators wrote, “Our discussions with the Department of Transportation (DOT) indicate that funding for the EAS program is facing a shortfall this year and we urge you to address this critical matter. Simply put, the Essential Air Service program was a promise made to rural America, and a promise that must be kept. Demand for this program has far exceeded the available funding, and we look to the Administration to preserve and enhance the EAS program for rural America.”
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