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Opportunities and obstacles in obtaining air connectivity for the residents of federally designated essential air service communities

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Title: Opportunities and obstacles in obtaining air connectivity for the residents of federally designated essential air service communities
Author(s): Vaishnav, Maulik P.
Advisor(s): Feser, Edward
Department / Program: Agr & Consumer Economics
Discipline: Agricultural & Applied Econ
Degree Granting Institution: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Degree: M.S.
Genre: Thesis
Subject(s): Rural air service federal program
Abstract: The Essential Air Service (EAS) program was established in 1978 to guarantee air connectivity for residents of small communities to the national air transportation system. Currently, over half of EAS communities are within 70 highway-miles of another airport leading to passenger leakage at EAS airports and rising program costs. However, communities have shown no interest in accessing federal funds for creative alternatives to air service to connect their residents to the national air transportation system. This paper presents five case studies of EAS communities to understand the reasons why local proponents support air service that is rarely used. The case studies present three main findings: the EAS program is a gateway to federal airport infrastructure funds of the Airport Improvement Program; there is an information gap between the US DOT and the EAS communities regarding existing alternate programs; and local politics and airport administrators’ personal professional concern sustains support for local air service. These dynamics lead communities to ignore better alternatives to air service that currently exist or are potentially viable in many EAS communities. The findings of this study have important policy implications: the Congress and the DOT need to define the purpose of the EAS program to target federal funds more efficiently. Further studies on decoupling the impact of general aviation and commercial air service at small airports can help structure an effective federal response to address local concerns regarding the adoption of alternatives to air service with a loss of AIP funds.
Issue Date: 2011-01-14
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/2142/18311
Rights Information: Copyright 2010 Maulik Vaishnav
Date Available in IDEALS: 2011-01-14
Date Deposited: December 2
 

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