Transportation Today: Senators introduce bill to improve air service in rural communities
U.S. Sens. Jon Tester (D-MT) and Jerry Moran (R-KS) introduced legislation Thursday that they hope will enhance air service in small and rural communities.
The senators introduced their Small Community Air Service Enhancement Act to lower costs for consumers and increase flight options for residents in rural communities who want to travel. The legislation will increase funding to the Small Community Air Service Development Program (SCASDP), which provides federal grant funding to attract air carrier service to smaller airports.
“Expanding reliable air service is essential for Montana so we can lower flight costs, create jobs, and keep families connected across our state,” Tester said. “That’s why I’m teaming up with Senator Moran to reauthorize the Small Community Air Service Development Program, which helps our rural airports offer more flights and will support travel and commerce in Montana for years to come.”
The bipartisan legislation would also prioritize small airports that have seen a significant reduction in their air service for SCASDP funding.
“Every flight counts in small communities with limited access to air travel, where each flight can have a significant impact on drawing new businesses and families to a region,” Moran said. “Strengthening the Small Community Air Service Development Program will help small airports attract commercial flights increasing connectivity across the state of Kansas.”
Small airport administrations support the bill.
“The Small Community Air Service Development Program (SCASDP) is highly important to maintaining and developing small community air service, which has been under increased pressure during the pandemic and pilot shortage,” Great Falls International Airport Director John Faulkner said. “Great Falls International Airport has successfully created new air service opportunities for our community through the SCASDP. We believe expanding SCASDP is vital to sustaining robust and affordable air service in our smaller communities, and we thank Senator Tester for his leadership on this issue.”
The legislation is also supported by the Airports Council International – North America and the American Association of Airport Executives.