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U.S. Senate passes bill to reauthorize programs vital to North Central West Virginia Airport

By Charles Young, The Exponent Telegram

BRIDGEPORT, W.Va. — The U.S. Senate recently passed the Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization Act, which will assure the continuation of three programs vital to North Central West Virginia Airport.

The $105 billion package contains renewals for the Essential Air Service Program, the Small Community Air Service Development grant program and the Airport Improvement Program.

The Essential Air Service (EAS) Program helps small communities maintain a minimal level of scheduled air service by subsidizing the cost of flights.

The U.S. Department of Transportation currently subsidizes commuter and certificated air carriers to serve approximately 60 communities in Alaska and 115 communities in the lower 48 contiguous states that otherwise would not receive any scheduled air service.

The EAS program makes it possible for a facility like North Central West Virginia Airport to offer the number of flights it currently does, said Airport Director Rick Rock.

“Without the Essential Air Service program, rural communities like our own would not have daily service most likely,” he said. “The Essential Air Service Program is very critical in allowing that to happen. Especially as costs rise and with there being less pilots, the EAS program is very important to us.”

The Small Community Air Service Development grant program is designed to help smaller communities address air service and airfare issues.

“That is for communities to be able to get money for specific projects and to be able to go out and promote air service that is not marketed and advertised,” Rock said.

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