Press

 U.S. Senator Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) led three of her Senate colleagues in a letter last week urging the Commerce Committee to continue supporting the Essential Air Service (EAS) program as the Senate continues work on legislation to reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

In their letter, the Senators emphasized the importance of the EAS Program and the need to maintain rural America’s access to crucial world markets and economic opportunities.

“Since its inception in 1978, the EAS program has been a critical resource for the nation in linking rural communities with major markets and economic opportunities. Additionally, it provides residents of our rural areas with transportation options on which families rely. These airports are imperative to rural communities, where public transportation options are limited compared to their urban counterparts,” said the Senators.

Senator Fischer has long supported the EAS program and worked to ensure its inclusion in the 2018 FAA Reauthorization bill. Seven Nebraska airports qualify for Essential Air Service funding, including: Alliance, Chadron, Grand Island, Kearney, McCook, North Platte, and Scottsbluff.

The letter was addressed to Commerce Committee leaders Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas). In addition to Senator Fischer, the letter was signed by U.S. Senators Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), and Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.).

Full text of the letter is available here or below.

The Honorable Maria Cantwell
Chair Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee
254 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Ted Cruz
Ranking Member Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee
512 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Chair Cantwell and Ranking Member Cruz,

This year, the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee included important language to support Essential Air Service in rural communities in S. 1939, the Federal Aviation Reauthorization Act of 2024. As the Senate and House progress in negotiations to reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), I urge you to prioritize maintaining the Senate provisions of Essential Air Service in any package that advances to the floor.

Of particular concern is the inclusion of cost-share language within the House bill, which would enforce a 5 percent cost-share beginning in fiscal year 2027 for Essential Air Service (EAS) airports. Such an amendment would have detrimental effects on numerous EAS-served communities, potentially jeopardizing their access to essential air services. I urge you to uphold the Senate’s version of the EAS language during conference with the House and ensure it is maintained in the final bill.

Since its inception in 1978, the EAS program has been a critical resource for the nation in linking rural communities with major markets and economic opportunities. Additionally, it provides residents of our rural areas with transportation options on which families rely. These airports are imperative to rural communities, where public transportation options are limited compared to their urban counterparts.

Thank you for your attention to this important matter. We look forward to working with you to ensure rural communities continue to have access to vital commercial air transportation services.

Sincerely,

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