Aug 15, 2011

Alamogordo 1 person fly out of its airport per day … fed subsidies to more than $3K per ticket

From Capitol Report New - you live in a place like rural New Mexico, you can find yourself a long way from an airport. So the federal government subsidizes airlines to service rural communities out in the hinterlands to the tune of $200 million a year. In a federal budget of $3.7 trillion, that’s small change. But in a time of budget tightening, those airline subsidies – which make up the Essential Air Service (ESA) program — are under greater scrutiny. For example, the Associated Press on Friday (Aug. 12) released a story that was picked up across the country citing how just 227 people flew out of the little airport in Ely, Nevada while the airlines – usually flying twin-engine planes that seat less than 20 people – received $1.8 million in subsidies there. That works out to $4,107 per ticket, paid for by taxpayers. Sometimes flights leave with no passengers on the plane at all. Capitol Report New Mexico saw the AP story and noticed that four rural airports in New Mexico also take part in the EAS program and while three of them service a few thousand people per year, the airport in Alamagordo racks up almost as few passengers as that airport in Ely. Only 374 people hopped aboard flights in Alamagordo in 2010. That’s an average of just 1.2 passengers per service day. By looking at the federal records, the US government sends some $1.6 millon in subsidies to airlines providing service to Alamogordo, so that works out to $3,126.57 per ticket. Read more

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