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"Essential Air Service Update"

Friday, December 14, 2001

Essential Air Service Update

As we mentioned in a previous Alert
Representatives Jerry Moran (R-KS) and Tom Udall (D-NM) have been
circulating a "Dear Colleague" letter to their fellow House members asking
for support for $57 million in funding for the Essential Air Service as part
of the conference report on the Department of Defense appropriations bill.
As you will recall, the Senate included the money - along with $200 million
in funding to reimburse airports for security related expenses - but the
House did not, leaving it as an issue to be resolved by a House/Senate
conference committee.

Thanks to the help of airports and others interested in EAS funding, 45
House members signed the Moran/Udall letter to House Appropriations
Committee Chairman Bill Young (R-FL) and Ranking Democrat David Obey (D-WI).
A link to the letter and a list of those Members who signed are included
below for your review as is a story on the letter from today's Congressional
Quarterly Daily Monitor.

While certainly a positive development, the fight on EAS funding and the
$200 million in security reimbursement funding remain uphill.  Work on the
DOD appropriations bill is expected to continue into early next week with a
vote likely prior to the congressional adjournment for the year, which we
hope will be at the end of next week.  As always, we will keep you posted on
developments on both the EAS and security funding.

Moran/Udall Letter:

Jerry Moran (R-KS)

Tom Udall (D-NM)

John McHugh (R-NY)

Bob Filner (D-CA)

Doug Bereuter (R-NE)

Collin Peterson (D-MN)

Julia Carson (D-IN)

John Baldacci (D-ME)

Donna Christensen (D-VI)

Phil English (R-PA)

Ronnie Shows (D-MS)

Greg Walden (R-OR)

Thomas Allen (D-ME)

Timothy Johnson (R-IL)

Doc Hastings (R-WA)

Charlie Stenholm (D-TX)

John Thune (R-SD)

Earl Pomeroy (D-ND)

Marion Berry (D-AR)

Barbara Cubin (R-WY)

Earl Blumenauer (D-OR)

Mike Ross (D-AR)

Denny Rehberg (R-MT)

Frank Lucas (R-OK)

John Sweeney (R-NY)

Brad Carson (D-OK)

John Peterson (R-PA)

Jo Anne Emerson (R-MO)

Chris Cannon (R-UT)

Jim Gibbons (R-NV)

J.D. Hayworth (R-AZ)

Jerry Costello (D-IL)

Ike Skelton (D-MO)

Gary Condit (D-CA)

Martin Frost (D-TX)

Bernie Sanders (I-VT)

Bart Stupak (D-MI)

Greg Ganske (R-IA)

Leonard Boswell (D-IA)

Ed Whitfield (R-KY)

Ralph Hall (D-TX)

Bob Goodlatte (R-VA)

Kenny Hulshof (R-MO)

 Bob Stump (R-AZ)

John Tanner (D-TN)



By Peter Cohn, CQ Staff Writer

Dec. 13, 2001 - House appropriators are facing pressure from a bipartisan
coalition to follow the Senate s lead and add more money to subsidize
airline service to rural areas.

    Reps. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., and Tom Udall, D-N.M., were circulating a
letter Thursday expressing support for an additional appropriation of $57
million for the Essential Air Service (EAS) program.

    The letter to House Appropriations Committee Chairman C.W. Bill Young,
R-Fla., and ranking Democrat David R. Obey, Wis., had 41 signatures as of
Thursday afternoon.

    The extra $57 million was backed by Majority Leader Tom Daschle, S.D.,
Appropriations Committee Chairman Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va., Conrad Burns,
R-Mont., and other lawmakers from rural states.

    Senate appropriators included the money in the fiscal 2002 defense
spending bill (HR 3338). The funding was not in the House version, and the
competing versions are now in the hands of conferees.

    A list of 44 communities that could lose service was compiled by the
Regional Airlines Association, the trade group spearheading the lobbying
effort to add EAS funds.

    While Young has no Florida communities in jeopardy, the list includes
Oshkosh, Wis., in Obey s state.

    The nearest small hub to Oshkosh is almost 50 miles away in Green Bay,
and the closest thing to a large hub is 86 miles away at Milwaukee s General
Mitchell Field.

    The EAS program was founded in 1978 after the airline industry was

    Airlines were given freedom to choose what routes to serve and what
fares to set, so EAS was put in place to ensure that areas of the country
without enough passengers or potential profits to attract larger airlines
could maintain a minimum level of air service.

    The fiscal 2002 Transportation spending bill (HR 2299) contains $63
million for the program, on top of the $50 million for the program mandated
under the 2000 aviation funding law AIR-21 (PL 106 -181).

    But supporters of the popular program say more is needed.

    "September 11 gutted the industry," said Faye Malarkey, director of
legislative affairs at the Regional Airlines Association.

    "Our carriers saw a revenue drop-off of 30 percent, and on top of that
costs have gone up," she said. "We need something in the $120 million range
in extra funds to preserve existing routes."

    The $120 million figure was authorized as part of the $15 billion
airline bailout (HR 2926 - PL 107-42).

    It was backed by Moran and others in the House and by Commerce Committee
Chairman Ernest F. Hollings, D-S.C., as well as others in the Senate.

    With only $63 million appropriated thus far, and with talks on the
Defense conference report postponed until next week, EAS backers are using
this time to seek enough support to present a formidable front to House

    "There was a misconception that $63 million was enough to save the
program" when the Transportation bill moved through Congress, Malarkey said.

    For some communities, she added, if insufficient funding ends air
service, "It would be a death knell for those businesses in the area."

Source: CQ Monitor News

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