Wyden, Merkley Urge Colleagues to Support Rural Air Service

Wyden, Merkley Urge Colleagues to Support Rural Air Service

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley today urged their colleagues to support the Essential Air Service Program, which ensures vital rural air links such as commercial flights in and out of Pendleton’s Eastern Oregon Regional Airport.

The Oregon lawmakers made their request along with 19 of their colleagues in a bipartisan letter in response to the president’s budget cutting that Department of Transportation program connecting more than 170 small communities nationwide. That includes the Pendleton airport, which is the only commercial air service in Eastern Oregon.

“Communities in our states rely on the Essential Air Service program to sustain their local economies,” Wyden and Merkley wrote. “Regular air service allows remote communities to access necessary medical services that might only be available in larger cities, as well as increase economic opportunity and attract visitors and new businesses.

“Any reduction in air service to these communities would likely reduce access to potentially life-saving medical services and decrease economic opportunity to already isolated areas,” they wrote Senate Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee Chair Susan Collins (R-ME) and Ranking Member Jack Reed (D-RI).

The letter was also signed by U.S. Senators Gary Peters (D-MI), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Bob Casey (D-PA), Al Franken (D-MN), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Angus King (I-ME), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Mike Rounds (R-SD), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Dan Sullivan (R-AK) and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD).

A copy of the letter is below:

 

April 6, 2017

 

 

 

The Honorable Susan Collins

Chairman

Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies

Senate Committee on Appropriations

184 Dirksen Senate Office Building

Washington, D.C. 20510

The Honorable Jack Reed

Ranking Member

Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies

Senate Committee on Appropriations

125 Hart Senate Office Building

Washington, D.C. 20510

 

 

 

Dear Chairman Collins and Ranking Member Reed:

As you prepare the Fiscal Year 2018 (FY18) Appropriations legislation, we write to express our strong support for the Department of Transportation’s (USDOT) Essential Air Service program. We request the committee include robust funding to support this important program that is vital to guarantee scheduled air service to small and remote communities across the country.

The USDOT’s Essential Air Service program connects over 170 small communities in the United States to the National Air Transportation System, providing them an essential connection point for travel throughout the country. Without this program, these communities would lose air service as airlines would move to only serve more profitable markets. That would leave some communities hundreds of miles away from the nearest large- or medium-hub airport.

Communities in our states rely on the Essential Air Service program to sustain their local economies. Regular air service allows remote communities to access necessary medical services that might only be available in larger cities, as well as increase economic opportunity and attract visitors and new businesses. Any reduction in air service to these communities would likely reduce access to potentially life-saving medical services and decrease economic opportunity to already isolated areas.

As we work to support rural communities and economies across the nation, we hope that you will include strong funding for the Essential Air Service program, which has provided important air services to these communities for decades.

Thank you for your consideration of our request, and we look forward to working with you to ensure that small and remote communities across the country maintain their vital scheduled air service.

 

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