FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 7, 2006
Schumer Blasts Cuts To Essential Air Service And Airport Improvement Program In Administration Budget
Proposal Would Halve Subsidies To Rural Airports – Could Be Devastating To Air Service in Jamestown, Watertown, Massena, Ogdensburg, Plattsburgh, Saranac Lake, and Lake Placid
Jamestown and Watertown airports would lose all funding; Others Forced To Pay Higher Share
Schumer To Launch Bipartisan Effort For Full Funding Of EAS And AIP Programs
U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today said that the Bush Administration’s budget proposal for fiscal year 2007 would slash commercial air service subsidies to rural communities in New York. The Administration's failure to provide dollars for Jamestown, Massena, Ogdensburg, Plattsburgh, Saranac Lake, and Watertown airports falls far short of what is needed. Schumer warned that the effect on many small rural airports relying on Essential Air Service (EAS) and Airport Improvement Program (AIP) would be disastrous.
"There is no question about it - access to air travel is good for businesses, good for vacationers, and good for the financial health of the community," Schumer said. "I've been fighting tooth and nail to protect Essential Air Service and Airport Improvement Program so help can keep flowing to New York, and we need to continue that fight so it can service more communities. This budget will have untold effects on many small rural communities. It is unacceptable to force communities to pay up to 10 percent or even 25 percent in a local cost share, in addition to the many costs they currently incur in running a small local airport."
The President’s budget would cut $60 million from EAS, which 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 Place in Upstate New York. Last year Schumer lead a bi-partisan coalition of Senators and successfully reversed the Administration’s proposed cuts and gave the program $110 million. This year the President is requesting only $50 million and is again proposing its controversial cost-sharing program.
Under the administration’s cost-sharing proposal, communities would lose funding based on how far away they were located from a major airport. Group one, which includes Jamestown and Watertown airports, would consist of communities less than 100 miles from the nearest large or medium hub and could lose their entire commercial air service subsidy, with the EAS program only receiving 50 percent of the funds they need for surface transportation such as busses or shuttles.
Group two would include communities located less than 210 miles from a large or medium hub and would have to pay 25 percent of their costs. Massena, Ogdensburg, Plattsburg, and Saranac Lake are included in the third group, which consists of communities located more than 210 miles from the nearest large or medium hub and would have to pay 10 percent of their costs.
The President is also proposing to cut more than $750 million from AIP which provides infrastructure grants to commercial airports across the country. Last year, Congress appropriated more than $3.5 billion for the AIP program, but now is only requesting $2.75 billion. The AIP program supports expansion at airports to make airports more efficient, and with record air passenger growth expected over the next 15 years, this funding is needed now more than ever.