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Essential Air Service

By Faye Malarkey Black, RAA Senior Vice President-Government Affairs

As Congress begins work on the next FAA Reauthorization bill, the RAA will
continue to advocate for a healthy, adequately-funded, and common sense
Essential Air Service program, in order to keep small and rural communities across
America connected to the national air transportation system.

 

History of the Program

The EAS program was initially authorized in 1978 as a safety net for small communities vulnerable to air service loss under the Airline Deregulation Act. The program was modified and extended by the Airport and Airway Safety and Capacity Expansion Act of 1987 and later made permanent aspart of the FAA Reauthorization Act of 1996. Subsequent legislation provided full funding for the program through the FAA’s Airport and Airways Trust Fund and foreign overflight fees, rather than the US Treasury’s General Fund.

The FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 increased discretionary spending levels and included an adjustment to FAA’s overflight fee program that resulted in additional revenues. Funding for FY2015 is authorized at approximately $258 million.

In recent years, the EAS program has seen far-ranging changes. Most notably, the Program is now capped so that no new communities may receive subsidy. Additionally, the mileage criterion was adjusted upward from 70 to 90 miles. Finally, new changes prohibited grants to airports that are located within 175 miles of a hub airport and have fewer than 10 daily enplanements.  As progress on the next FAA Reauthorization bill continues into the fall, the RAA will continue to advocate for a healthy, adequately-funded, and common sense Essential Air Service program, in order to keep small and rural communities across America connected to the national air
transportation system.


State by State

The following state-by-state analysis of key industry and regional airline statistics (including Essential Air Service) can be viewed by clicking here.

 

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