SCHUMER ANNOUNCES: FEDERAL DEPT. OF TRANSPORTATION CHOSE AMERICAN AIRLINES TO CONTINUE ESSENTIAL AIR PASSENGER SERVICE FOR WATERTOWN & NORTH COUNTRY RESIDENTS—FEDS WILL PROVIDE MORE THAN $3 MILLION IN FEDERAL FUNDING TO MAINTAIN SERVICE
Funding Will Enable American Airlines To Continue Indispensable Service From Watertown International Airport To Philadelphia International Airport
These Connections Will Keep Open Air Travel Options For Passengers In Central New York & The North Country – Contract With American Airlines To Continue Through 2020
Schumer: At Locals' Request, American Airlines Will Keep Serving The North Country
Today, U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer announced that the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has re-selected American Airlines to provide Essential Air Service (EAS) from Watertown International Airport (ART) to Philadelphia International Airport (PHL). Schumer explained that the EAS program was put in place to provide small communities access to the national air transportation system. As a result of this selection, residents of the North Country will have direct access to Philadelphia and, therefore be able to connect to even more locations and transit centers. Schumer said that DOT will provide $3,949,646 in annual federal funds to make this service a reality through 2020.
“Making sure the airports that serve small communities throughout Upstate New York and the North Country have the resources they need to succeed has always been a top priority of mine. This federal funding and the re-selection of American Airlines as the provider of Essential Air Service from Watertown to Philadelphia will enable residents in Watertown and surrounding areas to access major cities and transit hubs throughout the country and internationally,” said Senator Schumer. “Continued air service is critical to growing the local economy and welcoming visitors to the North Country.”
Schumer pointed to Watertown International Airport’s success using the EAS program. The EAS programs already provides critical support for twice-daily American Airlines flights from Watertown to Philadelphia, serving nearly 35,000 passengers each year. Today’s announcement comes on the heels of Schumer’s April 2017 visit to Watertown International Airport where he launched a major push to protect air service at Watertown, Massena, and Ogdensburg International Airports. Additionally, Schumer has spent years advocating for the continued service from Watertown to Philadelphia and helped deliver funding to expand the runway for larger American flights to takeoff.
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. Without EAS, there would likely be no scheduled air service to and from many of these airports, forcing residents to travel long distances to access air service and delivering a devastating blow to job creation efforts.