Air service to and from a community is essential to its economic development. As major airlines continue to make mergers and cuts, small- and medium-sized airports are losing carriers and available flights. The Small Community Air Service Development Program (SCASDP) from the Department of Transportation (DOT) seeks to help these communities address the issues that will enable them to retain their air service.
Essential Air Service (EAS) vs SCASDP
Many people dependent on smaller airports may already be familiar with the Essential Air Service (EAS) Program. It was established to ensure that certain communities would have a minimal level of service after the Airline Deregulation Act (ADA) of 1978, which freed airlines to choose who they wanted to serve and how much they wanted to charge. The SCASDP is a separate program. According to the Office of Aviation Analysis, an agency under DOT, EAS has strict criteria and a limited number of qualified applicants. The SCASDP has broader eligibility, potential grantees are allowed to self-identify air service deficiencies as well as provide their own solutions. EAS gives direct subsidies to air carriers while the SCASDP provides for revenue guarantees and other activities to boost service.
The Small Community Air Service Development Program
This program supports projects for underserved airports to assist carriers with subsidies in order to obtain or sustain service. Covered activities may also include marketing, promotion, studies, start-up costs and the greater use of airport facilities to improve fares and the availability of service. Priority consideration will be given to communities in the following circumstances:
- Air fares are higher than the national average.
- A public-private partnership will be established.
- A broad segment of the public including business, educational institutions and others have limited access to the national air transportation system.
- Award will be used in a timely manner.
- Multiple communities plan to consolidate their existing air service into one regional airport.
Applying for SCASDP
Eligible applicants include state and local governments and consortia. Applicants must be served by an airport that is not larger than a small hub as determined by Federal Aviation Agency's classification effective on the solicitation day of the program or were served by an airport not larger than a small hub as of calendar year 1997. The deadline to apply is December 15, 2017.