Skip to comments.Gov't pays for empty flights to rural airports
Posted on 08/11/2011 9:33:55 PM PDT by LouAvul
On some days, the pilots with Great Lakes Airlines fire up a twin-engine Beechcraft 1900 at the Ely, Nev., airport and depart for Las Vegas without a single passenger on board. And the federal government pays them to do it.
Federal statistics reviewed by The Associated Press show that in 2010, just 227 passengers flew out of Ely while the airline got $1.8 million in subsidies. The travelers paid $70 to $90 for a one-way ticket. The cost to taxpayers for each ticket: $4,107.
Ely is one of 153 rural communities where airlines get subsidies through the $200 million Essential Air Service program, and one of 13 that critics say should be eliminated from it. Some call the spending a boondoggle, but others see it as a critical financial lifeline to ensure economic stability in rural areas.
Steve Smith, executive director of the Jackson, Tenn., airport authority, also has seen empty or near empty flights take off, since the airlines get paid per flight, not per passenger. The subsidy amounted to $244 for each of the 2,514 people who flew out of Smith's airport last year, though few if any passengers knew that.
"They fly the empty plane so they can still get the money," Smith said.
(Excerpt) Read more at ktul.com ...
Obama is bound and determined to spend us into oblivion!
Government subsidies and payoffs, kinda cool. We feel like a genius every day with free hand outs like these.
What burns is that even as handouts this is inefficient. Sounds like it would be better to send a plane from Las Vegas when someone from Ely wants to fly.
Grrr... Yet ANOTHER misleading article on EAS.
SO many missed points, and wildly over-simplified.
Ive posted this before, but it seems appropriate to do so again....
FOR THE RECORD, I am an EAS PROPONENT. Its an important tool for small community economic development.
That said, BILL CLINTON destroyed Regional Aviation in the mid-90s with his Aviation Safety Law that made flying small aircraft to these smaller cities WILDLY unprofitable.
His These new rules will only cost PENNIES per passenger to implement! cost upwards of $100+ per passenger in real life, and everybody in the Industry knew it.
Now we have a situation where NO American Aircraft Corporation builds Regional/Commuter Aircraft anymore, the ones still in the fleet are at the end of their useful life cycles, and the Regulations have made them utterly unprofitable to fly, (as Delta so clearly demonstrated last week by announcing the dropping of the SAAB fleet, and pulling out of as many as 24 small market towns, many EAS-Subsidized), and that even with a $200 max subsidy PER PASSENGER, many of these cities cant be made profitable.
As important as Air Service is to smaller remote cities, Government Regulation has made it totally unprofitable to operate without HUGE subsidies, and that has become impractical in the current environment.
Sad to say, this drunken sailor kind of madness didn’t start with Obluffer. Much as I loathe everything that illegal alien imposter stands for...these kinds of spending boondoggles were initiated by overpaid drunks of BOTH parties, many years ago! If you could know the total tab that just that one assinine program has racked up since it was first hatched, you would fall on your gluteous maximus!
If I were smart enough to do it, I would check the Congressional Record from “Those thrilling days of yesteryear” and find out who sponsored the legislation that STARTED the “airlines-to-nowhere” madness, and then publish it, including the total amount of money that’s been pi$$ed away so the whole country could know.
But there’s no money in that for the carrier. Great Lakes should be put out of business for operating this way. It’s just stealing from the taxpayer!
Happens all over the country, little useless county airports with full time staff and hobby pilots. Sell them and put the money on reducing the national debt.
As for Ely, give me a break.
Ely is a town of 4,255 and it's only 200 miles (3 hrs?) from Las Vegas. There are airports in Utah about 100 miles away (90 min?) and one in Nevada less than 100 miles away.
It's been a copper town off-and-on for 100+ years and is Pat Nixon's birthplace.
It's a spec now. It was a spec 100 years ago. The existing old rail line may see a revival, maybe not. Depends on whether copper mines justify the cost.
Does this place really need $4,107 per passenger federal taxpayer subsides? I'm not seeing it. Not in 2011. This was porkbarrel B.S. protected by Harry Reid.
Did they have EAS 100 years ago? NO. NO one had it until 1978. And, according to one of the architects of the program quoted in the article it was never intended to be permanent. NEVER. It's only gotten bigger!
The article has some guy complaining about having to go 75 miles to Pittsburgh for a flight because of stress and traffic. Boo-hoo! I know those who have and do commute that far or further just to get to work.
This has turned into a nation of whining wusses!
I need my subside! I need my entitlement! Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! Now! Now! Now!
EAS may have its value, particularly in AK, but not at a $1000+ per passenger. $4000+ is criminal waste.
How much does it cost the economy if Ely residents just drive to Vegas? Since so few use the subsidized air transport, that question seems to answer itself.
I see what you mean. It’s the epitomy of the “culture” of “me too”, for the sake of pure exhibitionism or “getting a job”, the potemkin system of building streets for nothing during FDR’s envious depression and what not.
Some are part of Temples which care for arts, others see in this an opportunity to not only pay lip service so they can have on their resume “an accomplishment”, but, jealous, they use the position to destroy others - who would be more effective otherwise.
In other words, the ineffective wants to destroy the effective, rises to cult leader of otherwise legitimate cults and then destroy it all from their position because they are frustrated they cannot do it, because, all along, they were propped by people, helpers and artifices that bore no resemblance to the right way to get there.
It’s a strange “Jersey Shores” like behavior of imitation and usurpation of the high and the real industry.