Thursday, February 03, 2011

Proposal to end rural airports' subsidies poses philosophical challenge for newly elected GOPer

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., has introduced an amendment to an aviation bill in the Senate to eliminate the Essential Air Service program that subsidizes 140 rural communities, reports Brandon Hubbard for the Petoskey News in Michigan, a state with six of the airports in the program. Carriers get subsidies to cover losses accumulated while serving the small airports, plus a fixed 5 percent profit. Nationally, the program is estimated to cost about $200 million a year.

In the 48 contiguous states, subsidies per passenger as of June 1, 2010, ranged as high as $5,223 in Ely, Nev., to as low as $9.21 in Thief River Falls, Minn., according to Transportation Department data, according to The Associated Press.

The bill could be among the first philosophical challenges for freshman Republican Rep. Dan Benishek, who has four of the rural airports spanning his large Northern Michigan district, writes Hubbard. Benishek has called repeatedly for government to get its spending under control. (Read more)

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