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News & Press: Press Releases

RAA Issues Statement on President Trump’s 2018 Budget Proposal

Thursday, March 16, 2017  

Click here for PDF version (includes hyperlinked footnote sources)

For Immediate Release                           Contact: media@raa.org
March 16, 2017


RAA Issues Statement on President Trump’s 2018 Budget Proposal
WASHINGTON, March 16, 2017 – The Regional Airline Association, the industry trade group representing North American regional airlines, released the following statement on the Trump Administration’s 2018 Budget.

Regional airlines operated 44 percent of the nation’s departures and safely carried 157 million passengers on nearly 4 million departures in 2015—about 11,000 departures a day. Regional airlines are part of the booming civil aviation industry, which generated $1.6 trillion in economic activity and supported 10.6 million jobs in 2014 . Small community air service drives at least $121 billion in economic activity and supports over 1.1 million total jobs.  Regional airlines serve communities of all sizes, but are generally the only airlines that serve small communities.  
“We know President Trump and his Administration are committed to equal transportation options at urban and rural communities,” stated RAA president Faye Malarkey Black, “so we encourage the President to meet with and learn more about the regional airlines that provide the only source of scheduled, commercial air service to 2/3 of our nation’s airports.” 

Unfortunately, a growing pilot shortage has put this air service at risk. Already, devastating impacts have been felt by smaller communities across the nation who have lost all or a significant part of their air service. Since 2013, dozens of U.S. communities have lost all air service and hundreds more have lost a significant portion of their departures. The pilot shortage has played a major role in many of these service losses. Coupled with other cost increases associated with small community air service, the pilot shortage carries potential for great economic harm to rural America as smaller communities are disconnected from the air transportation network and global economy. Fortunately, regional airlines have safety-first solutions in mind to fix the pilot shortage and preserve the air service that supports economic parity between small town and urban America.
In addition to discussing solutions to the pilot shortage, RAA wishes to offer its views on two specific proposals in the President’s proposed budget: Air Traffic Control (ATC) reform and proposed cuts to the Essential Air Service (EAS) program.

Air Traffic Control
A stable funding stream for ATC is critical for regional airline health and inefficiencies in the system today can add costs to small community air service. While RAA is neutral on ATC privatization, Ms. Black cautioned, “We have very specific concerns with ATC reform proposals that lack representation for regional airlines and carry the potential to dramatically increase costs for regional airline flight segments.”  Black continued: “If policymakers move forward with ATC reform, they must avoid placing additional cost burdens on regional airline flight segments that keep rural America connected. Additionally, regional airlines must have representation on any envisioned governance Board that is commensurate with operating 44 percent of the nation’s departures.”

Essential Air Service
The Essential Air Service program helps keep small community air service afloat at some of the nation’s smallest and most geographically isolated communities. This important program is funded in part by fees paid to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) by foreign carriers that fly over the United States and in part by additional, discretionary funding. EAS helps to ensure rural communities retain access to commercial airline service and enjoy the economic lifeline that this air service presents. RAA supports the EAS program and continues to support common sense eligibility criteria, including mileage or other geographical restrictions that focus critical resources on those communities with few alternatives to commercial air service.  
Ms. Black stated: “At a time when rural America is struggling for economic parity, commercial airline service is a lifeline that helps communities attract and support businesses and retain professionals, including doctors, nurses, teachers, entrepreneurs, and countless other individuals, who view reliable air service favorably when deciding where to live and work.”
Ms. Black concluded: “We encourage President Trump and his Administration to get to know America’s regional airlines, help us implement safety-first solutions to the pilot shortage, and ensure the nation’s airspace is responsive to the only commercial airlines serving our nation’s smallest communities. We look forward to discussing the important role regional airlines play in keeping our country connected and its economy humming.”  

About RAA
The Regional Airline Association (RAA) provides a unified voice of advocacy for North American regional airlines aimed at promoting a safe, reliable, and robust regional airline industry. The RAA serves as an important support network connecting regional airlines, industry business partners, and government regulators in bolstering the industry; as well as promoting regional airline interests in a changing business and policy environment.  With more than 10,600 regional airline flights every day, regional airlines operate 44 percent of the nation's commercial schedule.
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