Why is Lake Cumberland Regional Airport under attack?

-- Sep. 20--SOMERSET -- A Washington, D.C.-based political watchdog group is calling for an end to federal funding for the Lake Cumberland Regional Airport in Somerset. Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW...

The airport, located in Somerset for well over half a century, was making approximately 26,000 runs per year in the late 1990s. In 2003, an airport official said the local airport was the third busiest airport in Kentucky, besides commercial airports, based on takeoffs and landings.

When told that the airport had not been closed or empty at any time in recent history, Sloan said, "I didn't make it up. That's what was reported."

Sloan said CREW's main point in the letter was to ask Sen. DeMint to "be consistent. ... Don't cherry pick."

CREW's mission statement says the group uses "a combination of research, litigation and media outreach" to further its cause, which is to promote ethics and accountability in government and public life by targeting government officials who sacrifice the common good to special interests.

Vallier said Locair plans to continue servicing the Lake Cumberland region long after the federal subsidy has gone.

"We have dropped the subsidy per passenger below $300," Vallier said. "It was over $1,000 in March and April when we were flying to Nashville. ... We've taken proactive steps with our grant, including monitoring our budgets closer, and adding a 19-seat airplane because we're filling the 9-seater on some days. ... Our goal is to see what service patterns can exist once the subsidy has been exhausted, as we plan on being here."

"Rest assured, my commitment to southern and eastern Kentucky remains the same," Rogers said Friday.

"An ignorant attack from a shadow organization will never deter me from seeking new opportunities to our area and the Lake Cumberland Regional Airport is an integral part of our pro-growth strategy and long-term success. ... It's my unqualified belief that economic development and job creation are an overwhelming positive for any community. That is why my priorities have always been the same -- to bring jobs, new business and tourism to southern and eastern Kentucky. That being said, it should come as no surprise that I enthusiastically support Lake Cumberland Regional Airport.

"Those of us in and around community airports recognize their vital importance for regional development and know first hand that they are lifesavers when disaster supplies are needed and emergency services are required. Local airports create careers, inspire our next generation of aerospace engineers, train up a cadre of general aviation pilots and aircraft mechanics, and are a proven marketing tool for attracting business owners and developers.

"I am especially proud of Lake Cumberland Regional Airport's most recent accomplishment -- the successful launch of commercial air service. Now our families can more easily fly around the country; our businesses can attract new clients; and our hospitals can keep and recruit top-notch health professionals. The possibilities are endless with commercial flight service no longer an obstacle to our growth."

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