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Reed introduces bill that supports Jamestown Airport

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Rep. Tom Reed, R-Corning, has introduced the bipartisan “Restoring Essential Service to Small Airports Act” to help smaller but economically essential airports across the country, like the Jamestown Regional Airport, rejoin the Essential Air Service (EAS) program.

Reed said the bill would also provide a boost to local economies while guaranteeing access to commercial air service.

“We care about our region’s access to national air travel because working families and businesses depend on the availability of affordable commercial flights,” Reed said. “The Essential Air Service Program must restore its role as a facilitator of air services in communities like Jamestown, New York to ensure the local economy of Western New York is not unfairly left out of new economic development opportunities.”

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Essential Air Service (EAS) program provides air service to smaller regional airports, connecting local communities to major hubs, and supporting economic growth. Federal officials pulled EAS funding from the airport in January 2018 because of a lack of passengers. In addition to not meeting the required number of passengers, the amount of federal subsidy per passenger using the Jamestown airport was higher than federal guidelines.

Boutique Airways is ready to begin an EAS contract at the county’s airport in Jamestown under a contract that includes $147,000 in monetary support for the airport from civic officials and businesses, $151,000 of in-kind support from civic and business officials and the addition of Baltimore-Washington International Airport as an additional hub along with Pittsburgh.

The federal government denied an application to reestablish service at the county airport in February 2019, citing concerns about competition from the Buffalo and Erie airports, and what Transportation Department officials termed an “overly optimistic” ridership projection.

Boutique Air will offer flights 30 nonstop flights a week during the busier spring and summer season, 18 a week to Pittsburgh and 12 to Baltimore-Washington. During the slower fall and winter seasons, flights will decrease to 24 a week, 12 each to Pittsburgh and Baltimore-Washington.

Adding Baltimore-Washington to the mix of flights changes the financing drastically from the 2018 proposal. Boutique Air is now proposing an additional 611 completed flights and 2,320 additional passengers a year. The average fare has increased from $35 to $75, though expenses are increasing $1,108,416 a year. Boutique Air is asking for federal subsidies of $2,980,608 in the first year and $3,070,027 in the second year. The 2018 proposal requested subsidies of $2,500,484 and $2,562,996, respectively.

“The Essential Air Service program is an important part of growing our Chautauqua County Jamestown Airport and breathing new life into the operations,” said Chautauqua County Executive PJ Wendel. “Small airports like ours are a critical piece of infrastructure for business retention and economic development efforts. Not only is this important for corporate and business travel, but having commercial service available offers a local, no-hassle flying opportunity for our residents and visitors, boosting our tourism and hospitality industry. I thank Congressman Reed for introducing this bill and his continued efforts to get commercial air service back in Chautauqua County through the Essential Air Service program.”

Representatives David Trone, D-Md., and Glenn “GT” Thompson, R-Pa., also co-led the introduction of the bill

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