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House agrees to commuter air subsidy

March 28, 2000|By SCOTT BUTKI

Hagerstown Regional Airport Director Carolyn Motz is pleased that a bill to subsidize commuter flights has passed the House of Delegates, but said it's not yet known when there will be flights between here and Baltimore-Washington International Airport.

The legislation, filed by House Speaker Casper Taylor and passed by the House Saturday, requires passage in the state senate.

"I am very delighted. I want it to work out. I am hoping to be in on the details of the issue as time goes on," Motz said Monday.

Details remain to be worked out, said Bruce Mundie, director of regional aviation assistance for the Maryland Aviation Administration.

"There is no prediction right now for how long it is going to take," he said.

Motz said the state would have to put out a request for airlines to bid on providing service to BWI from airports in Hagerstown, Cumberland and St. Mary's County.

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She did not want to guess how long that would take.

She said she is impressed that the House passed the legislation.

"I am very encouraged. It is a gutsy move on the part of the state. It tells me the folks in the state understand the economic impact of the airports in the state."

Under the proposed legislation, the subsidy would be limited to $1 million next year and $2 million in each of the following two years.

The Maryland Aviation Administration would have to report to the General Assembly on the success of the program by Dec. 1, 2002. The subsidy would end June 30, 2003, unless extended by the legislature.

Hagerstown lost commuter service to BWI in December 1997 when USAirways shifted its hub from Maryland to Pennsylvania.

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