Yesterday, the House Appropriations Committee released their Fiscal Year (FY) 2013 Appropriations report language. Included in the report was a recommendation for an Essential Air Service (EAS) program funding level of $214,000,000. This consists of a “general fund appropriation of $114,000,000, and $100,000,000 to be derived from overflight fee collections.” The Committee’s recommendation for the EAS program is $71,000,000 above the fiscal year 2012 enacted level and equal to both the fiscal year 2013 request and the amount recommended in the Senate report.
While this is good news for rural airports, the EAS program remains under attack. Recently, I was interviewed about the program and despite my insistence otherwise, the article declared EAS is spending “hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars on empty airline seats.”
Additionally, as you may know, the Taxpayers for Common sense recently released the report below that labels EAS as a “wasteful and outdated” program.
As we continue in our advocacy, we must remain proactive to ensure the EAS program maintains the funding level included in the House and Senate reports and general Congressional support continues despite the negative reports and articles. The Rural Air Service Alliance is the only organization that has been solely focused on promoting EAS as an economic driver and necessity to connect Rural America to the national transportation network.
I am hopeful we can continue to grow our membership, from airports, chambers, users and others, while also growing the support level for this important program. Please let me know if you have any questions regarding the House Appropriations language.
Brian Sowa, email@example.com