PHOENIX, Aug. 9 /PRNewswire/ -- Commercial air service to small communities could be lost unless Congress passes legislation to allow airlines to recoup their high fuel costs, according to Regional Aviation Partners (RAP).
"In 1987, 51 air carriers provided subsidized air service under the federal Essential Air Service (EAS) program. Unfortunately, today only eight carriers remain to provide subsidized air service to the 102 EAS communities in the continental United States," said RAP Executive Director Maurice Parker. "The dramatic reduction in carriers has all but eliminated competition for EAS markets which has caused annual subsidy rates to steadily climb and community dissatisfaction with the level and quality of their air service to increase."
Carriers are leaving the EAS program because the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has failed to help mitigate some of the financial risks airlines incur when serving small, subsidized markets, said Parker. "Specifically, today's risks involve jet fuel costs which have risen exponentially and increased so dramatically that the projected costs used by carriers to bid on EAS communities are commonly exceeded by the time the carrier initiates service or shortly thereafter," he stated.
RAP has long recognized the importance of mitigating risks to participating carriers and since 2004, has been calling on DOT to implement Section 402 of the Vision 100 Act, which would offer more financial help to EAS carriers. "Unfortunately, DOT refuses to implement the provision or to use their discretion to implement a policy whereby carriers could receive compensation for significant increases in jet costs as they have done in the past," said Parker.
RAP is calling on Congress to pass legislation that not only requires the DOT implement Section 402, but also changes the compensation formula to specifically address increases in jet fuel costs. "DOT, under the Alaska Mainline and Bush Mail program, currently provides for adjustments in compensation to reflect increased jet fuel costs. We would simply ask that the DOT be required to do the same in the lower 48 states," said Parker.
About Regional Aviation Partners
RAP, a not-for-profit organization, was founded in April 2001 to represent those who depend on regional aviation. Members include small communities, local governments and businesses, airlines and aircraft manufacturers that depend on regional airline service as their link to the global transportation system.
SOURCE Regional Aviation Partners
CONTACT: Maurice Parker, President/Executive Director of Regional Aviation Partners, +1-602-685-4112
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