Things With Wings

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  • How Essential Is Essential Air Service?
    Posted by Jennifer Michels 10:40 PM on Feb 13, 2011

    Just how important to the U.S. is the Essential Air Service program, and if it is cut (as proposed last week by the FAA funding bill in the House), will we really notice?

    My thought is that there is no way that airlines that currently provide, for example, two flights per day to a small city, will keep nearly that level of service, if they continue serving those places at all.

    Some argue it is an unnecessary subsidy that will be filled by the marketplace and will work itself out. We even had a debate in this office about it after I started to write in Aviation Daily that this could put a "substantial squeeze" on service to some airports. I later took out the word "substantial."

    But when I heard Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) in floor debate in the Senate say that 99.9% of all Americans live within 120 miles of a public airport that has more than 10,000 takeoffs and landings per year, does that really mean that most people have adequate access to air service?

    When is the last time you drove 2 hours to get to a flight? On top of, of course, needing to add another 1.5 hours for check-in. And 120 miles in many mountainous states does not exactly translate to 2 hours. And how many choices do they have? Only flying out on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays?

    I really question these things. And I don't know if I'm in the wrong by worrying that the loss of EAS will be felt--substantially.

    Would love to hear anyone else's thoughts on just what we will be missing (or not missing) if EAS is phased out by 2013.

    Tags: EAS, tw99, Budget, FAA, Reauthorization

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