Senate Appropriates $128 million for EAS
Small communities and regional turboprop operations received what some consider unexpectedly generous support for the Essential Air Service program in late July, when the Senate Appropriations Committee proposed a funding package worth $128 million as part of the fiscal year 2003 transportation bill. The proposal recommends $65 million in direct appropriations for EAS, $50 million in transfer funds from the FAA and another $13 million in leftover money from last year’s package. In all, the committee’s proposal would give the EAS program $15 million more than it received last year.
Perhaps most gratifying to the Regional Airline Association, the proposal does not include proposed restrictions to eliminate communities subsidized over a $275-per-passenger cap, nor does it empower the DOT Secretary to disregard applications from communities eligible for service.
The industry also received $20 million of a proposed $27.5 million grant for the small community air service development zone. Included in the AIR-21 legislation passed two years ago in an effort to draw regional jets to small communities, the program received $20 million in FY 2002 as well, after it failed to yield any funding in FY 2001.