US Department of Transportation to pull Essential Air Service subsidies

In a new announcement, the U.S. Department of Transportation is pulling the plug on the Essential Air Service (EAS) in more than a dozen states. However, that change will not impact the Kirksville Regional Airport.

The Department of Transportation issued a proposed enforcement policy regarding the $200 per passenger subsidy cap. The subsidy is what allows the airport to offer airfare at a price of $50. Currently, the airport is only using $149 of that subsidy. The only way an airport can exceed that subsidy is if they are located more than 210 miles from the nearest large or medium airport hub.

"We are really a poster child for this program. We have two colleges here, we have a pretty good sized community, and we are far enough away from a major or medium hub to benefit from this, and I don't see our program in jeopardy at all," said Glenn Balliew, Kirksville Regional Airport Director.

All airports not currently complying with the $200 subsidy gap limit have until September to do so. Four airports including Kirksville Regional currently receive EAS subsidies. Congress created the EAS in the late 1970's as a temporary way to help small regional communities that grow their economies. That temporary program has turned into a nearly four-decade-multi-billion dollar taxpayer subsidized industry.