Published on Friday, March 17, 2017

Essential Air Service on the chopping block in Trump budget

Americans living in rural communities could lose the economic lifeline of the federal funded Essential Air Service (EAS), under President Donald Trump's plan to slash billions from the budget.

By doing away with EAS, the nation would save about $175 million a year, officials said.
Policymakers have long said the subsidies paid to airlines to operate these low capacity services are too expensive for the benefits they bring in. 
There are 111 communities nationwide served by the EAS program which otherwise would have no scheduled air links with larger airports and hub cities.
A rural community applicable for EAS funding is one with no scheduled air service and at least 210 miles from the nearest hub airport, based on Transportation Department rules.
The Trump budget maintains that very few EAS routes regularly operate near to full capacity.
"EAS flights are not full and have high subsidy costs per passenger," the Trump 'budget blueprint' said.
"Communities that have EAS could be served by other existing modes of transportation."
The budget is also calling for a double-digit cut in transportation department funding and as expected, privatization of air traffic control.
This would 'make the system more efficient and innovative while maintaining safety. This would benefit the flying public and taxpayers overall.'

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