WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D) and U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D) have written to Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine Choa, urging her to provide needed waivers and approvals to allow a new air service provider to land at the Chautauqua County Airport.
The Senators urged USDOT to reconsider the decision to terminate Essential Air Service status, saying air service in the region is a critical resource. The Senator’s also acknowledged the importance of ensuring that federal support is only used on carriers that actually deliver the service they promise, and as a result are also calling for iron clad commitments on service reliability, affordability, and frequency from the next airline that could 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,” the Senators 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. Other industries, including manufacturing and medical services rely on commercial air service to connect to the global marketplace.”
“In Jamestown, there are over 940 established businesses with nearly 15,000 employees and an annual payroll of nearly $500 million dollars, and commercial air service to the Chautauqua County-Jamestown Airport is a key component of the local and regional economy. Over the past few months, the airport has seen a surge of flights by nearly 50%, and that number is expected to increase with the revitalization of Downtown Jamestown and increased tourism as a result of the opening of the National Comedy Center this summer” they wrote.