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Congress Reauthorizes Key Federal Program that Ensures Passenger Air Service at Rutland Regional Airport

October 4, 2018
Press Release

(THURSDAY, Oct. 4, 2018) -- Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), and Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) today announced that Congress has renewed a federal program that provides federal funding for passenger air service at rural airports across the country, including Rutland Southern Vermont Regional airport.

The Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization Act of 2018 included a provision reauthorizing the Essential Air Service (EAS) program, which subsidizes commercial air service at small, rural airports.  The EAS program currently provides $1.6 million annually to Cape Air Service to operate flights between Rutland Southern Vermont Regional Airport and Logan airport in Boston.

In a joint statement, Leahy, Sanders and Welch said: "This is great news for the airport and for the Rutland region.  The Rutland airport is a vital component of the region's transportation system and maintaining commercial passenger service is important for the regional economy.  We are pleased Congress overwhelmingly rejected the misguided proposal by President Trump to eliminate this program which is essential to rural communities around the country.” 

The FAA bill authorizes a total of $158 million in EAS funding in fiscal year 2019, increasing annually over five years to $172 million in fiscal year 2023.   President Trump had proposed eliminating the program in his fiscal year 2018 budget request, and slashing it by 40 percent in his fiscal year 2019 budget request.  The bill also requires the FAA to report to Congress on the program’s economic impact in communities with subsidized air service.

The bill passed the House on Sept. 26th and the Senate yesterday.  President Trump is expected to sign the bill into law.