FOLLOWING YEARS OF ADVOCACY, SCHUMER ANNOUNCES OVER $4.7 MILLION IN FEDERAL FUNDING TO ENSURE AMERICAN AIRLINES CONTINUES TO OPERATE AT WATERTOWN INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT
Essential Air Service Funding Will Guarantee 12 Nonstop Round Trip American Airlines Flights From Watertown To Philadelphia Per Week
In 2015, Schumer Secured Federal Funding To Extend Runway & Critical Improvements To Allow Larger Jets, Like Those Used By American Airlines, To Be Cleared for Take-Off
Schumer: New Funding Will Ensure American Airlines Fly’s In Watertown For Years To Come, And Help North Country Economy Soar
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer today announced that the U.S. Department of Transportation has awarded a $4,701,099 annual subsidy for American Airlines to continue operations at Watertown International Airport. Schumer said this funding provided through the Essential Air Service (EAS) program will fund 12 nonstop round trip flights per week from Watertown to Philadelphia International Airport from February 1, 2022, through January 31, 2024 using a 50-passenger Embraer ERJ-1 plane.
“Air travel was among the most severely impacted industries amid the height of the pandemic, and this tremendous news for Watertown International Airport is a shot in the arm to the regional economy and clears the North Country economy for takeoff,” said Senator Schumer. “With this critical funding, Watertown International Airport will be able to ensure direct flights to Philadelphia for years to come. I’m proud of the role I played in securing this vital federal funding, and I will keep fighting to ensure that airports like Watertown’s have the resources they need to fully recover and better serve Upstate residents and businesses.”
"This service is so important to our community it keeps our soldiers, families, friends, treatment of the sick, tourism and business all connected to where they need to be. This announcement will ensure American Airlines keeps our community connected to the national airspace system, for which we are grateful," said Grant Sussey, Manager of Watertown International Airport.
Schumer has a long history fighting for the Watertown International Airport and expanding air services in Upstate New York. In 2015, Schumer secured $3,591,188 in federal funding to pay for a 1,000-foot extension of Taxiway A, which runs parallel to Runway 28, as well as a 1,000-foot extension to Runway 28 itself. The extension of the runway is what allowed larger planes to land during cold weather, thus permitting 50-seat jets, like the ones the ones used by American Airlines, to continue landing during the winter. In 2017, Schumer stood at Watertown International Airport to fight against drastic cuts from EAS program specifically so airports like Watertown could continue to take advantage of subsidies to better service their communities.
The EAS 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 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 ensures commuter airlines across the country serve approximately 140 rural communities, including six communities in Upstate New York: Watertown, Jamestown, Massena, Ogdensburg, Plattsburgh, and Saranac Lake/Lake Placid.