Cardin pushes local air subsidy

March 23, 2007|by TARA REILLY

HAGERSTOWN - U.S. Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin introduced legislation Wednesday to help Hagerstown Regional Airport keep a federal subsidy to provide commercial air service through 2012.

The Washington County airport is designated as an Essential Air Service facility, which means it is eligible for the subsidy so it can maintain a minimum level of passenger service.

A US Airways Express carrier at the airport receives the $650,000 annual federal subsidy to provide that service. The subsidy is set to expire Sept. 30, 2007.

The carrier provides two daily flights to and from Pittsburgh International Airport.

Senate Bill 922 would ensure that certain mileage calculations used to determine essential air eligibility are certified by states, rather than federal regulators, and extend eligibility for an additional five years, through 2012, according to a written statement.


The extension also would affect airports in Lancaster, Pa., and Brookings, S.D.

"The Hagerstown Regional Airport is an essential transportation hub for Washington County, and the entire Western Maryland region," Cardin, D-Md., said in a written statement.

"I want to ensure that residents and businesses in Western Maryland continue to have access to air service," Cardin said in the statement.

Airport Manager Carolyn Motz said Thursday that keeping the essential air designation could make the airport more attractive to airlines once the runway extension project is complete.

The extension project, scheduled for completion in December, includes lengthening the runway and increasing the size of safety areas.

"If Essential Air Service is still available, it might make us a little more attractive to airlines ..." Motz said.

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