SENATORS SCHUMER AND GILLIBRAND ANNOUNCE $155 MILLION IN FEDERAL FUNDING FOR ESSENTIAL AIR SERVICE PROGRAM
Funding Will Ensure Continued Commercial Service to Massena International Airport, Ogdensburg International Airport, Plattsburgh International Airport, Adirondack Regional Airport, and Watertown International Airport
Washington, DC – U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer and U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today announced that the Omnibus Appropriations package will fully fund the Essential Air Service (EAS) program, which provided funding to maintain scheduled commercial air service at airports across the North Country. The Omnibus Appropriations package will include $155 million for EAS, which is a $5 million increase over FY2017. The EAS program supports commercial air service at small airports by ensuring they have regularly scheduled commercial flights to large or medium-hub airports, linking passengers to the National Air Transportation System. In New York State, five airports currently depend on this critical program: Massena International Airport, Ogdensburg International Airport, Plattsburgh International Airport, Adirondack Regional Airport, and Watertown International Airport.
“Making sure the airports that serve small communities throughout Upstate New York have the resources they need to succeed has always been a top priority of mine, which is why I fought hard to preserve the Essential Air Service program as proposals were floated to eliminate it. This vital federal funding will allow for passengers across the North Country to continue their access to major cities and transit hubs throughout the country and internationally,” said Senator Schumer. “After all, there is no question about it - access to air travel is good for businesses, good for jobs, and good for the financial health of a community and this new multimillion-dollar investment will enrich communities across New York State.”
“Investing in our airports enables safer, more efficient service for the businesses and travelers who utilize it every day,” said Senator Gillibrand. “These funds ensure that these communities will continue to have a link to the national aviation system, which is critical for economic development and quality of life across the North Country. I am proud to have fought for this funding to be included in the Omnibus legislation and will continue to push for resources that enhance service to airports across New York.”
In 1978, Congress passed the Airline Deregulation Act (ADA) despite concerns raised at that time regarding the effect it would have on air service to small communities. The EAS program was established to guarantee that communities served by air carriers prior to deregulation would continue to have commercial air service, preventing the loss of a vital mode of transportation that would result in economic harm to rural communities. Access to adequate air service has become imperative to the success of our local economies. However, rural communities have struggled to retain or attract commercial airline service.