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For Immediate Release:

Senate Passes Legislation to Reinstate the Essential Air Service (EAS) Program


Carolyn Motz — Airport Director

(HAGERSTOWN, MD — February 15, 2008) Good news was received by Hagerstown Regional Airport (HGR) Thursday morning from the offices of U.S. Senators Mikulski and Cardin about the status of the airport’s Essential Air Service (EAS) funding.

The Airline Deregulation Act of 1978 allowed airlines to provide air service to domestic markets as they saw fit. At that time Congress had the foresight to create the EAS Program to ensure that all communities who provided scheduled service to that point would be guaranteed, at least, a minimal level of air service. Because of that initiative Hagerstown Regional Airport became eligible for EAS funding. However, the EAS “safety net” was not called by HGR until March 2004 when Air Midwest threatened to abandon the community.

Paraphrasing a combined Media Release from the Maryland Senators that praised Congressional passage of the legislation: “The Senate has passed legislation sponsored by U.S. Senators Benjamin L. Cardin and Barbara A. Mikulski (both D-MD) that will reinstate the Essential Air Service (EAS) program at Hagerstown Airport. The bill extends the EAS program at Hagerstown for one year.”

“The bipartisan bill, which also passed the House earlier this week, extends the existing provisions regarding the EAS subsidies through Sept. 30, 2008.”

“Twice last year, the Senate approved the Cardin-Mikulski measure for Hagerstown airport only to see the legislation become enmeshed in unrelated disputes ... Today’s action marks the first time that a final bill dealing with the issue will be sent to the President.”

“Congress is expected to pass a full five-year reauthorization of the EAS program as part of the larger Federal Aviation Administration bill that will be taken up later in 2008. The Senate action will allow Hagerstown airport to resume commercial passenger service without having to wait for the larger bill to pass.”

Although all other aspects of the airport are operating as usual, HGR has been without commercial air service since October. Daily inquiries from around the region continue to be received by the airport about the status of commercial service. Airport Director, Carolyn Motz, commented “The good work of our Federal elected officials has given us the answer for all of those who have contacted us about the return of commercial service. As regrettable as this hiatus has been, we see this as an opportunity to start fresh with a better product for our passengers. We will strive to provide an airline that addresses passengers’ concerns such as destinations, price and schedule.” Motz went on to say “This is the time to let us know if you have a preference of air carriers and/or destinations for your business or leisure travel.”

In the above referenced release Senator Mikulski stated “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.”

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