Daily Archives: April 22, 2012

Federal Air Travel Subsidies: Is Essential Air Service ‘Essential?’

 By Hunter Raines, Albany Government Law Review 

Some may recall the shocking headline last year resulting from the failure of the United States Congress to reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration, costing thousands of jobs and foregoing billions of dollars in government revenue.[1]  Perhaps a few were more concerned with whether or not airlines should have adjusted their fares by the amount of the federal aviation tax that no longer applied upon expiration of the FAA’s bill to question what possible debate could exist with whether or not the FAA should be funded.[2]  In truth, however, the debate was centered not on whether or not to federally regulate aviation, but, inter alia,  how and where to subsidize certain large commercial airlines for flying routes that “just [do not] make sense” absent a government subsidy.[3]  This article argues that the proper role for the majority of these funds is not corporate (and community) welfare, but to undertake capital projects to improve infrastructure at existing, commercially sustainable airports without increasing the cost to the tenant airlines or the traveling public.  This article’s analysis will focus primarily on New York State.

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