Trump Budget Proposes Elimination Of Essential Air Service

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The proposed budget of the United States, presented in abridged form today by the White House, would eliminate the Department of Transportation’s Essential Air Service (EAS) program, reports The New York Times. EAS currently provides the only form of commercial air transportation to 60 communities in Alaska and 115 communities in the lower 48 states, according to the Department of Transportation.

The program has been in effect since 1978 when the airline industry in the United States was first deregulated. In addition to the communities affected, many small regional airlines, such as Boutique Air and Great Lakes, are heavily dependent on EAS programs

Image shows counties served by airports subsidized under the EAS program.

Image Credit: Protonk, available through Creative Commons License

Comments (16)

Is this a good thing or a bad thing? Which is worse - government subsidies, or letting the market decide who gets commercial air service?

Posted by: Rollin Olson | March 16, 2017 12:26 AM    Report this comment

Most of the people who are served by this program do not know it exists. Everyone should know the true cost of any service they receive.

Posted by: Mark Sletten | March 16, 2017 9:37 AM    Report this comment

Interesting report:

www.transportation.gov/sites/dot.gov/files/docs/Subsidized EAS report for non-Alaska communities-Feb_1_2017.pdf

Robin, considering the negative economic impact of the EAS program cut, I'd say it's a bad thing. Read the report.

Posted by: Rafael Sierra | March 16, 2017 9:37 AM    Report this comment

Read the report.

www.transportation.gov/sites/dot.gov/files/docs/Subsidized EAS report for non-Alaska communities-Feb_1_2017.pdf

Posted by: Rafael Sierra | March 16, 2017 9:42 AM    Report this comment

Having flown many years in Alaska's bush, I confidently say that the people who will be most harmed by this cut are residents of remote villages in Alaska. It is not practical to build roads from Alaska's non Essential-Air-Service cities to those villages. The cost of such roads would far exceed the cost of subsidized air service to those villages. I would support elimination of the Essential Air Service subsidy to all communities that have reliable, year-'round surface access to the rest of the world (that would include my own home town of Cedar City, Utah).

Posted by: Blaine Nay | March 16, 2017 11:00 AM    Report this comment

I hope it passes. There is nothing I would like more than to continue paying the government for a service they sold off to a private company so I can pay them for the same service as well. Two is one remember! :-/

Ever get your taxes reduced accordingly when a government entity sold off a government function to a private entity? No? Didn't think so. Neither have I.

Posted by: Samuel Cobb | March 16, 2017 1:05 PM    Report this comment

I hope it passes. There is nothing I would like more than to continue paying the government for a service they sold off to a private company so I can pay them for the same service as well. Two is one remember! :-/

Ever get your taxes reduced accordingly when a government entity sold off a government function to a private entity? No? Didn't think so. Neither have I.

Posted by: Samuel Cobb | March 16, 2017 1:07 PM    Report this comment

Shut the EAS down !

All the EAS program has done is create monopolies and poor service.

When a group starts up a new flying service they have to compete with a large subsidized scheduled flying service. Nobody is interested in competing anymore so the non-competitive attitude is doing more customer service damage then the higher prices do. These monopolies think of the customer as a meat-unit or a box.

Alaska use to be known for multiple air carriers willing to accommodate passengers anywhere for a fair price. Those days are gone and young people don't desire to be pilots anymore. When people have a negative experience from the poor service it turns them off to the whole industry.

Posted by: Klaus Marx | March 16, 2017 1:07 PM    Report this comment

The people impacted are primarily those that voted for these policies. I say let them pass this change. If people don't like it, they can vote for someone else next time. Elections have consequences, I don't have to agree with them.

Posted by: Joe Servov | March 16, 2017 1:31 PM    Report this comment

I live in the Alaska Bush - and the airport I serve is essential as the alternate landing field between the supply center of Fairbanks and the North Slope oil fields. I'm off the road system - without Essential Air Service, my village goes away, safety of the flying public is compromised, the only aviation fuel stop between FAI and SCC closes rendering the oil fields inaccessible to GA aircraft. Oil production ceases, Alaska folds. And I have to leave my home, because I don't relish the idea of mushing dogs 250 miles just to go to the store. Reform EAS, don't delete it.

Posted by: Rich Thorne | March 16, 2017 3:18 PM    Report this comment

"The people impacted are primarily those that voted for these policies. I say let them pass this change. If people don't like it, they can vote for someone else next time. Elections have consequences,"

And there's more of this coming - the Trump budget calls for ATC privatization.

Posted by: Rollin Olson | March 16, 2017 3:33 PM    Report this comment

"And there's more of this coming - the Trump budget calls for ATC privatization."

I'll wager a good number of pilots voted straight ticket for Team Red. Again, I don't have to like it and will have to deal with it, but they are the ones in power at this time. I can complain, and will, but odds are Team Red will do it anyway. I don't think I'll like the result, but it's not like they're going to stop.

Posted by: Joe Servov | March 16, 2017 11:41 PM    Report this comment

Quotation: "From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs."-Karl Marx (1875)

Posted by: Bill Corcoran | March 17, 2017 4:27 AM    Report this comment

There are certainly some EAS routes that could stand to be eliminated. Why EAS subsidizes a flight from Macon, GA (which is only an hour south of ATL on I-75) to Dulles is quite beyond me, unless it's a political favor pulled so the Air Force guys at Warner Robins can get back and forth to the Pentagon?

It's one thing to have EAS service if you're out in the sticks in Alaska and there's really no other way to get places. It's quite another to subsidize air service because a company wants a convenient direct flight to a given destination.

Posted by: Robert Gatlin-Martin | March 17, 2017 8:34 AM    Report this comment

Never understood how so many Alaskans can afford to fly around the state on very expensive rides for any little thing when they can barely afford clothing. Seems like we've been paying for it all along? What's reasonable about that? If they want to live the rough and tumble life, do it without subsidies....

Posted by: David Viglierchio | March 17, 2017 9:23 AM    Report this comment

Frankly, I don't care if EAS goes away, and I don't care if they privatize ATC. Neither will affect my flying. And I live in a rural area with very limited commercial airline service.

Posted by: Mike McHugh | March 18, 2017 8:38 PM    Report this comment

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