Sigh Of Relief For Smaller Airports
The U.S. Senate passed a compromise Federal Aviation bill Monday that will have a major impact on four small airports in West Virginia.
The bill will help modernize the country’s air traffic control system. It also restores Essential Air Service for the Mid-Ohio Valley, Raleigh County Memorial, North Central Regional and Morgantown Municipal airports.
U.S. Senator Jay Rockefeller, who sits on the committee, says it was a hard fought battle.
“Nobody got all they wanted. But that’s the nature of compromise. And compromise in and of itself was a particularly difficult negotiation,” he said.
Rockefeller calls the bill, which now heads to the President, “a huge win for West Virginia.”
EAS provides subsidies to small rural airports that couldn’t afford to bring in commercial airlines without those funds. A loss of EAS would have lead to job cuts and a limited air service to the public.
Terry Moore, the manager at the Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Airport in Wood County, says this was his response when he heard the news.
“Ahhhhhhhh. That was a sigh of relief.”
Moore says those funds keep commercial flights in the air.
“It’s significant for economic development,” he said. “It’s like having a neon sign over you that says ‘We Are Here.’ If you lose that commercial air service, you just sort of blend off and become just another town of 40-thousand people.”
The Senate approval of EAS gives the four West Virginia airports a chance to renew their commercial service later this year.
“We feel very comfortable rolling into this next year,” Moore said.”We hope the economy is on a turn. It kind of feels like it is. And we look for a brighter future.”
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