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For Immediate Release:

Senate Passes Legislation to Ensure Continuation of Passenger Service for Hagerstown Airport

Contact:

Susan Sullam
410-962-4436
410-960-2440 (cell)

(WASHINGTON — October 31, 2007) The Senate has unanimously passed bipartisan legislation co-sponsored U.S. Senators Benjamin L. Cardin and Barbara A. Mikulski (both D-MD), to ensure that the Essential Air Service (EAS) program continues in Hagerstown until Congress passes the five-year reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Passage of the FAA reauthorization bill, which contains a provision to continue the EAS mileage waiver program, could be delayed until 2008.

The bill, S. 2265, introduced by Senator John Thune (R-SD), would extend the existing provisions regarding the EAS subsidies through Sept. 30, 2008. It would ensure that certain mileage calculations used to determine the Essential Air Service (EAS) program eligibility are certified by states rather than federal regulators. The extension would affect three airports: Hagerstown, Brookings, S.D., and Lancaster, PA.

“Passage of this legislation will help ensure that the EAS program continues until Congress passes the FAA reauthorization bill,” said Senator Cardin. “Passage of the EAS program is critical to future air service to Hagerstown and the Western Maryland region, and I will continue to push every legislative opportunity to ensure that happens,” said Senator Cardin.

“Senator Cardin and I pledged to do what we could to help the Hagerstown Regional Airport, and this bill provides a much-needed extension to get commercial air service back up and running in Western Maryland,” said Senator Mikulski. "Our regional airports play a key role in maintaining Maryland’s robust economy. I will continue to fight to keep Marylanders on the go and for a federal investment in our Western Maryland communities.”

On Sept. 30, Hagerstown lost AirMidwest/MESA, but it has an opportunity for another carrier and that will be dependent on getting the EAS mileage waiver.

The Airline Deregulation Act of 1978 allowed airlines to provide air service to domestic markets as they saw fit, but Congress had the foresight to create the EAS Program to ensure a minimal level of scheduled air service in small communities. Without the EAS Program, smaller communities would be much more likely to lose airline service.

The legislation now goes to the House of Representatives.

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