$15 million for Essential Air Service secured in House bill
An amendment in the House Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development Appropriations bill will provide an additional $15 million in funding for Essential Air Service (EAS), which will benefit 109 EAS airports nationwide, including Eastern Oregon Regional Airport in Pendleton. The bill still must be approved by the Senate and signed by the President.
"EAS provides critical air service to eastern Oregon," Congressman Greg Walden (R-Ore.) said. "We will continue to fight for the much-needed assistance in this program that helps maintain the flights to and from Eastern Oregon Regional Airport."
EAS provides direct funding from the Department of Transportation to airlines allowing them to provide air service in communities that otherwise wouldn't be able to sustain service. In 2006, Congress passed the Deficit Reduction Act which included language authorizing an additional $15 million for EAS in 2007 and 2008. Unfortunately, language included in the 2005 Deficit Reduction Act also contained a trigger that required Congress to fund EAS at no less than $110 million in those years in order for the $15 million to be made available. However, in this year's bill, EAS was funded $600,000 below the necessary level to release the additional funds. The House Appropriations Committee fixed that with an amendment to increase the funding level of EAS to $110 million, in turn triggering the additional $15 million in funding.
EAS dedicates $748,440 to ensure Horizon Air provides services to Pendleton, which includes three one-stop (via Pasco, Washington) or nonstop round trips from to Portland each weekday and four over each weekend.
"EAS subsidies provide the necessary funding possible to maintain service in Pendleton and gives us time to grow into a situation where we may no longer need subsidies," said Larry Dalrymple, the economic development director for the city of Pendleton. "It is far easier to grow an existing service than to start one from scratch."