WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen with Congressman John K. Delaney (All D-Md.) announced Thursday that Hagerstown Regional Airport, Richard A. Henson Field (HGR) has received an extension of its Essential Air Service (EAS) funding through March 2019. The EAS Program, funded through the U.S Department of Transportation (USDOT), provides critical air service that connects rural and remote areas to major hubs, helping to grow area businesses and support economic growth. In FY2017, it provided nearly $1.5 million to Hagerstown Regional Airport (HGR) supporting commercial flights. Currently, Southern Airways Express has daily flights from HGR to BWI and Pittsburgh International Airport.
On Wednesday, the Senate passed a bipartisan reauthorization for the FAA that extends the EAS program for five years. The legislation had already passed the House of Representatives and will go to the President, who is expected to sign it.
“Hagerstown Regional Airport is an economic hub for western Maryland’s rural communities — for business, tourism and private travel. We’ve been fighting hard to maintain jobs and this important economic anchor for Washington County,” said Senator Cardin, Ranking Member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee. “Extension of the EAS eligibility for Hagerstown and the overall program is a tremendous boost to the region and the passengers who rely on HGR’s service.”
“The Hagerstown Regional Airport is a crucial resource to the Hagerstown community and supports the region’s businesses and trade. I applaud the decision to maintain the Airport’s status in the Essential Air Service program – this designation will ensure the Airport’s continued ability to serve Marylanders and contribute to our state’s economic growth,” said Senator Van Hollen, a member of the Budget and Appropriations Committees. “I will continue working to ensure Maryland’s airports – big and small – have the resources they need.”
“Western Maryland needs a successful Hagerstown Regional Airport and Essential Air Service status is a key part of the equation. This is about the federal government partnering with the local community to serve the common interests of the people and I’m proud to work with Sen. Cardin and Sen. Van Hollen to make sure Hagerstown’s voice is heard in Washington. You can’t have a strong national infrastructure without rural air service,” said Congressman John K. Delaney.
“The airport is grateful to receive the extension of Essential Air Service funding through March 2019. This waiver ensures passengers commuting to BWI and Pittsburgh International, will continue receiving this valuable service,” said HGR Airport Director Phil Ridenour. “We thank The Department of Transportation, Senators Cardin and Van Hollen along with Congressman Delaney for their continued support of this vital funding program.”
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, it would be much harder for smaller communities like Hagerstown to attract and keep a commercial carrier.