04.06.17

Peters Leads Colleagues in Calling for Continued Funding of Essential Air Service Program

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Gary Peters (D-MI) led 20 of his Senate colleagues in a bipartisan letter calling for robust funding for the Essential Air Service Program (EAS). The EAS Program, funded through the U.S Department of Transportation (USDOT), provides critical air service that connects rural and remote areas to major hubs, helping to grow area businesses and support economic growth. President Trump’s FY2018 budget proposal would eliminate funding for the program, which could force rural airports to suspend service and residents to drive hundreds of miles to reach the nearest major airport. The letter was sent to Senate Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee Chair Susan Collins (R-ME) and Ranking Member Jack Reed (D-RI).

“The USDOT’s Essential Air Service program connects over 170 small communities in the United States to the National Air Transportation System, providing them an essential connection point for travel throughout the country,” wrote the Senators. “Communities in our states rely on the Essential Air Service program to sustain their local economies. Regular air service allows remote communities to access necessary medical services that might only be available in larger cities, as well as increase economic opportunity and attract visitors and new businesses. Any reduction in air service to these communities would likely reduce access to potentially life-saving medical services and decrease economic opportunity to already isolated areas.”

Enacted in 1978, the EAS Program has provided commercial service to communities that would otherwise go entirely unserved. The program subsidizes commuter and certificated air carriers that serve over 170 communities across the country. Michigan is home to nine airports that receive EAS funding, including five in the Upper Peninsula.

The letter was also signed by U.S. Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Bob Casey (D-PA), Al Franken (D-MN), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Angus King (I-ME), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Mike Rounds (R-SD), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and Ron Wyden (D-OR).

A copy of the letter is available here and copied below:

April 6, 2017

The Honorable Susan Collins

Chairman

Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies

Senate Committee on Appropriations

184 Dirksen Senate Office Building

Washington, D.C. 20510

The Honorable Jack Reed

Ranking Member

Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies

Senate Committee on Appropriations

125 Hart Senate Office Building

Washington, D.C. 20510

Dear Chairman Collins and Ranking Member Reed:

As you prepare the Fiscal Year 2018 (FY18) Appropriations legislation, we write to express our strong support for the Department of Transportation’s (USDOT) Essential Air Service program. We request the committee include robust funding to support this important program that is vital to guarantee scheduled air service to small and remote communities across the country.

The USDOT’s Essential Air Service program connects over 170 small communities in the United States to the National Air Transportation System, providing them an essential connection point for travel throughout the country. Without this program, these communities would lose air service as airlines would move to only serve more profitable markets. That would leave some communities hundreds of miles away from the nearest large- or medium-hub airport.

Communities in our states rely on the Essential Air Service program to sustain their local economies. Regular air service allows remote communities to access necessary medical services that might only be available in larger cities, as well as increase economic opportunity and attract visitors and new businesses. Any reduction in air service to these communities would likely reduce access to potentially life-saving medical services and decrease economic opportunity to already isolated areas.

As we work to support rural communities and economies across the nation, we hope that you will include strong funding for the Essential Air Service program, which has provided important air services to these communities for decades.

Thank you for your consideration of our request, and we look forward to working with you to ensure that small and remote communities across the country maintain their vital scheduled air service.