WASHINGTON, D.C. – As the U.S. House of Representatives continues to debate the FY14 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations bill, Alaskan Congressman Don Young today successfully offered an amendment to protect the critical Essential Air Service program (EAS) in areas outside the contiguous 48 States, on a vote of 239-175. If not for Congressman Young’s amendment, Essential Air Service communities throughout Alaska would have been excluded from this decade’s long program that was established to protect rural communities after the airline industry was deregulated.
Click on photo above to watch Rep. Young speak in support of his EAS Amendment
“With 82 percent of Alaskan communities off the road system, aviation is no luxury, but rather a necessity. Today’s amendment clarifies that the proposed reforms to the EAS program will not alter the longstanding recognition of the realities in Alaska and Hawaii; we have no roads, no alternatives, and complete dependence on aviation,” Rep. Young said. “I wish to thank Congressman Hanabusa of Hawaii for her support on this amendment, as we continue to educate our colleagues on the unique challenges that Alaska and Hawaii face on a daily basis.”
Current law excludes communities from the Essential Air Service program if they receive over $1000 per passenger, with the exception of communities in Alaska and Hawaii. As originally drafted, the FY14 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations bill would have reduced that amount to $500 per passenger, and would have excluded 14 Alaskan communities from the program.
In addition to his successful amendment, Congressman Young led the fight to defeat an amendment that would have completely eliminated the Essential Air Service program. Final passage of the FY14 THUD appropriations bill is expected later this week.