HOLLIDAYSBURG — Three central Pennsylvania airports, including the DuBois Regional Airport, are among 11 expecting to receive temporary waivers so they can continue offering daily passenger flights.
The U.S. Department of Transportation, in an order distributed Monday, recognized 11 airports in the Essential Air Service program whose 2018 subsidy requirements have decreased.
While all 11 airports still exceed the EAS program’s $200 per passenger subsidy cap, the newest order explains how the department, based on the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018, is deciding which airports qualify for temporary waivers to stay in the program.
Based on the order distributed Monday, waivers can be being granted to any airport currently in the EAS program whose 2018 per passenger subsidy level comes in at a level below any level recorded in the previous three fiscal years.
For the Altoona-Blair County Airport, the department reported a $322 subsidy per passenger for 2018. While that subsidy was higher than airport’s per passenger subsidy of $304 for 2017, it was down significantly from the $448 per passenger subsidy level assigned to the 2016 fiscal year.
For the John P. Murtha Cambria County Airport in Johnstown, the department recognized a $340 subsidy per passenger level for 2018 and recognized that as an an improvement from the $348 per passenger subsidy level for 2017.
The DuBois-Jefferson County Airport, according to the Transportation Department’s calculation, had a per-passenger subsidy level of $296 in 2018. That was an improvement over its $331 per passenger subsidy in 2017 so it also qualified for a temporary waiver.
The department also explained in the order that its calculations reflect amendments considered and approved in the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018.
Subsidy per passenger amounts were calculated by taking the annual subsidy paid to the airline providing flight service, then dividing it by number of passengers departing and arriving at the EAS airport. The time frame, for the 2018 fiscal year, extended from Oct. 1, 2017 to Sept. 30, 2018.
Those who want to contest the department’s calculations or its granting of a temporary waiver can file an objection, in writing, within 20 days, that can be submitted to EAS@dot.gov or by fax at 202-366-7638.
The FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 also recognized that EAS airports must have at least 10 boarding passengers per day and how that figure would be calculated. Based on the order, the Altoona-Blair County Airport had 11.5 per day. The Johnstown airport had 13.3 per day and the Dubois airport had 15.7 per day. All numbers reflected the Oct. 1, 2017 to Sept. 30, 2018 time frame.
The other airports on the list of 11 expected to receive temporary waivers to stay in the program are Bradford and Lancaster in Pennsylvania; Fort Dodge in Iowa, Merced in California, Muscle Shoals in Alabama, Owensboro in Kentucky, Parkersburg in West Virginia and Vernal in Utah.
The order naming the airports in line for temporary waivers also identified five airports that could be terminated from the EAS program for failing to meet criteria. Those airports — in Frankstown/Oil City in Pennsylvania, Hagerstown, Md.; Morgantown, W.Va., Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri and Victoria, Texas, have time to submit challenges to being terminated.