Senators Push For Airport Funding

New York’s U.S. Senators are asking the federal Transportation Secretary to help bring a new air service provider to the Chautauqua County Airport in Jamestown.

Charles Schumer, D-New York and Senate minority leader, and Kirsten Gillibrand, D-New York, wrote to Elaine Chao, federal transportation secretary, to ask her to provide the necessary waivers and approvals that could allow for a new air service provider to land at Chautauqua County’s Jamestown Airport. The senators said access to commercial air service, when reliable, can be a resource for Chautauqua County and that the Department of Transportation should issue the necessary waivers as part of the Essential Air Service program to ensure every opportunity for a new carrier to land in Jamestown.

The Essential Air Service program has subsidized Chautauqua County air service for years, but several airlines have been unable to maintain required ridership rates to keep the subsidy. The EAS program, which requires 10 passengers to fly each day,

EAS funds for the Jamestown Airport were terminated in January by the U.S. Department of Transportation after subpar performance by Southern Airways Express.

County Executive George Borrello recently told The Post-Journal that county officials are actively pursuing a new airline. Borrello had visited the Massena Airport in St. Lawrence County, a small, rural airport similar to Jamestown’s airport. Massena works with an airline called Boutique Air.

Schumer and Gillibrand asked Chao to reconsider the decision to terminate Essential Air Service eligibility in Jamestown in hopes that in partnership with local officials, a new and more reliable carrier could be found to help serve the region. “Access to commercial air service, when safe and reliable, through the EAS program is a lifeline for rural communities across the United States, including Chautauqua County, and is vital to continued economic development and quality of life,” Schumer and Gillibrand wrote. “Terminating EAS waiver eligibility for the Chautauqua County-Jamestown Airport will deprive residents and businesses in Chautauqua County from having local access to commercial air travel, which is important to the region’s economic development and tourism industry.”