There is an effort in Washington to do away with the Essential Air Service Program. Senator Ben Nelson says this program is needed to help fund commercial air service to rural areas in Nebraska.
“The Essential Air Service Program provides a subsidy to more than 100 airports nationwide enabling them to retain commercial air service. Without EAS support, commercial service would likely end. This is far more than a convenience or travel issue for Nebraskans. It is about economic development, job creation and providing a gateway for Nebraskans to get to places they need to go for business and others to get to Nebraska for business purposes as well.”
Senator Nelson says money from this program goes to several airports in rural Nebraska.
“The Essential Air Program helps airports keep commercial service in Alliance, Chadron, Kearney, Scottsbluff, McCook, Grand Island and North Platte. I have personally seen the impact of having air service can have on a community’s ability to attract employers and I’ve seen it first hand.”
U.S. Senator John McCain from Arizona is a supporter of this bill. Senator Nelson says he understands why he would. His state is more “rural” than Nebraska.
“If you are a senator from Arizona and you focus on rural, it is going to be entirely different than a state line Nebraska which is 98 percent privately owned land. It is one thing in a state that has broad federal land. It looks different to a senator from a state that has a lot of government land and rural areas are different there than they are in a state like Nebraska. Nebraska is 100-percent settled.”
Senator Nelson understands that cuts in spending need to be made but he doesn’t believe this is the right pat as it will lead to limited business development in rural areas as well as a reduction in jobs.