Hagerstown Regional Airport would need to boost its Cape Air passenger counts to keep a federal subsidy under a Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization bill under consideration in Congress.
That bill, which would authorize and fund the FAA through 2015, also would tighten requirements for Essential Air Service subsidies, which help rural communities maintain commercial air service to larger hubs.
Under the bill, to keep an EAS subsidy, an air service would have to average 10 or more passengers a day, unless the community it serves is more than 175 miles from a hub airport.
Cape Air receives an EAS subsidy for its commuter flights from Hagerstown Regional Airport to Baltimore-Washington Thurgood Marshall International Airport. That service averaged 9.7 paid passengers per day in 2011, according to airport Director Phil Ridenour.
Hagerstown Regional Airport is well within the 175-mile limit in which the 10-passenger minimum would apply.
The good news is that the airport would have more than a year to bring its passenger counts up.