Watertown Airport in N.Y. Could Lose Funds

Watertown International Airport would lose about $585,000 in annual subsidies under a Federal Aviation Administration's proposal to eliminate subsidies for communities within 100 miles of a small hub airport.

"The recommendation sets up a complicated reform that takes the 'air' out of Essential Air Service, telling residents of smaller communities that convenient, reliable air service is a luxury they can't have," said RAA Vice President of Legislative Affairs Faye Malarkey.

Ms. Malarkey urged lawmakers to approve $117 million for EAS in the fiscal year starting Oct. 1, an increase over this year. Both houses of Congress appear headed toward that figure, but a final decision may not come until after the November elections. Rep. John M. McHugh, R-Pierrepont Manor, and other longtime allies led the call for the increase.

"This program, as the name implies, is essential to maintain the economic viability of our communities," said Brynn A. Barnett, spokeswoman for Mr. McHugh.

"Air service is a linchpin for economic progress and EAS has been the lifeline for many communities upstate, like Watertown, that are underserved by air travel," said Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., in a statement. "I continue to lead the fight to fully fund EAS, and to preserve and expand air service upstate."

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