FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 26, 2009

SCHUMER: AFTER YEARS OF CUTS, PRESIDENT'S BUDGET PROPOSAL INCLUDES $55 MILLION MORE FOR ESSENTIAL AIR SERVICE; COULD BE BOON FOR AIR SERVICE TO UPSTATE NEW YORK


Proposed Budget Includes New Funding That Could Go to Air Service in Jamestown, Watertown, Massena, Ogdensburg, Plattsburgh, Saranac Lake, and Lake Placid

Schumer Has Long Opposed Bush Administration Proposed Cuts to the Program, and Successfully Fought to Overturn Cuts to EAS in the Last Two Years

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today said that the Obama Administration’s budget proposal for fiscal year 2010 includes vital funding for commercial air service to rural communities. The Administration's budget will provide $55 million in additional federal funding for a program that ensures commercial airlines provide air service at Jamestown, Massena, Ogdensburg, Plattsburgh, Saranac Lake, Lake Placid, and Watertown airports. This increased funding could be used to ensure that these airports remain operational so that residents of these rural New York communities can continue to benefit from affordable air service.

 

"There is no question about it - access to air travel is good for businesses, good for jobs, and good for the financial health of the community," Schumer said. "I've been fighting tooth and nail to protect Essential Air Service for the last eight years, so I am very pleased to see that the President has increased funding for rural air service in his proposal. Small local airports are expensive to run but vital to the communities they serve. This budget makes sure they can continue to do the job.”

 

The President’s budget would increase funding for EAS by $55 million next year. EAS funding provides critical subsidies to support commercial air service to underserved rural communities across the country, including Jamestown, Watertown, Massena, Ogdensburg, Plattsburgh, Saranac Lake and Lake Placid in Upstate New York. In the last two years Schumer has lead bi-partisan coalitions of Senators and successfully reversed the Bush Administration’s yearly cuts.

 

The Essential Air Service program was developed after the airline industry was deregulated in 1978. Deregulation gave airlines the freedom to decide which markets to serve and how much to charge for that service. This led to a scarcity of air service in many rural communities across the country where operating costs were higher and populations were smaller and less dense. The EAS program was put in to place to guarantee air service to these underserved communities. EAS provides subsidies to commuter airlines across the country to serve approximately 140 rural communities, including seven communities in Upstate New York. Without EAS, there would likely be no scheduled air service to Jamestown, Watertown, Massena, Ogdensburg, Plattsburgh, Saranac Lake and Lake Placid, forcing residents to travel long distances to access air service and eliminating hundreds of jobs.

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