FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 2, 2012
SCHUMER: FAA BILL PRESERVES ESSENTIAL AIR SERVICE AT JAMESTOWN AIRPORT
Today, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer announced that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) bill set to pass Congress will preserve Essential Air Service (EAS) funding at the Jamestown Airport. Last year, the airport benefitted from $1,350,803 in federal funding that helped make commercial air service economical at the airport. Without this funding, commercial service at Jamestown would likely have ended entirely. Schumer aggressively pushed the Transportation Secretary and his Senate colleagues to reach an agreement that would preserve EAS funding for Jamestown. The final agreement would stop EAS funding at airports with fewer than 10 enplanements per day or a ticket subsidy of over $1,000. As Jamestown averages over 10 flights per day and the ticket subsidy amounts to less than $1,000, Jamestown will continue to receive EAS funding under this legislation.
“This is a major victory for Jamestown passengers and businesses alike,” said Schumer. “I went to bat for Jamestown because this service says it all in the name – it’s ‘essential.’ Major businesses rely on it to make sure they can get to meetings and bring in new work that create jobs, and travelers need it to access destinations across the country. Preserving Essential Air Service will be a shot in the arm for Chautauqua County, and could help us attract more businesses and jobs to Western New York.”
In pushing to preserve EAS funding at Jamestown, Schumer noted that Western New York’s ferocious winter weather often makes it extremely difficult for travelers to reach Buffalo Niagara International, and that EAS plays a critical role in the Chautauqua County economy.
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 less dense. Recognizing the fundamental role that air travel plays in rural development, 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, like Jamestown, in upstate New York.
In pushing to preserve the service, Schumer stressed to Transportation Secretary LaHood and his Senate colleagues that the airport is particularly important to the economy in Western New York, and pointed to Cummins Inc., as an example of a pillar of the economy that benefits from a thriving local airport. Cummins bought their Jamestown engine plant in 1974 and built their first engine in 1978. Since that time, the plant has become a flagship manufacturing facility for Cummins with 1,450 employees who helped the company reach its 1,000,000th engine milestone in 2008. The Jamestown Plant is expected to be a key part of Cummins growth by reaching their 2,000,000th engine milestone in 2015. The numbers clearly demonstrate the critical importance of the company’s Jamestown workforce and manufacturing facility. Efficient movement of personnel is vital to the smooth operation of the engine plant. The Jamestown airport allows Cummins to quickly and safely transport employees to the plant without having to travel long distances. Schumer noted that the benefits that Cummins employees used the airport for both business and tourism, as thousands of individuals from other companies throughout Western New York have done.
“I’m thrilled that these flights will keep coming in and out of Jamestown,” continued Schumer. “Access to affordable air travel is absolutely critical in our rural communities in Western New York, and today’s news marks a giant step forward in ensuring we have it for years to come.”