WASHINGTON, D.C. –
Senators Benjamin L. Cardin and
Barbara A. Mikulski (both D-Md.) today sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of Transportation Mary E. Peters, urging her to allow continued service at Hagerstown Regional Airport by extending the Essential Air Service (EAS) mileage waiver provision through December 31, 2007. On Monday, U.S. Airways pulled its service from the airport. The Senators are fighting for an extension of the waiver, which will allow the airport to continue receiving subsides for commercial airline service.
“Our regional airports play a key role in maintaining Maryland’s robust economy,” said Mikulski. “The Hagerstown Regional Airport is critical to keeping Western Maryland’s economy moving. I will continue to fight to keep Marylanders on the go and for a federal investment in our Western Maryland communities.”
“The EAS program is critical to the businesses and residents of Washington County and the entire Western Maryland region,” said Senator Cardin. “I urge the Secretary of Transportation to act immediately to restore the EAS mileage waiver program so that commercial air service can be restored as soon as possible.”
The text of the letter is below:
Dear Secretary Peters:
We request that you extend the Essential Air Service (EAS) mileage waiver provision through December 31, 2007 to provide continued passenger airline service at Hagerstown Regional Airport (HGR).
Monday, U.S. Airways left HGR and EAS came to an end. This is the first time Western Maryland has been without passenger air service in seventy-six years. This airport is critically important to the residents and businesses in Western Maryland and last year, nearly 12,000 passengers benefited from EAS at HGR. We also are concerned that the Department of Transportation just invested nearly $50 million to complete a runway extension at HGR yet that extension will be useless without these critical EAS funds.
Our Senate colleagues have committed that this waiver will be extended in the Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization bill that will passed later this fall. Therefore, it only makes sense that you temporarily extend the mileage waiver so that HGR does not lose these critical funds.
Thank you for your consideration of our request. We look forward to your prompt response.