Small Community Air Service Development Pilot Program

Author: Brad Van Dam, (703) 824-0504

 

What's at Issue?

The Wendell H. Ford Aviation Investment and Reform Act for the 21st Century (AIR-21) that Congress passed in 2000 authorized funding for the Small Community Air Service Development Pilot Program.  Lawmakers created the program in an effort to improve air service to airports that suffer from infrequent service and high airfares.  The bill authorized $20 million for the program in fiscal year 2001 (FY01) and $27.5 million in FY02 and FY03. 

 

AAAE and ACI-NA have been strong supporters of the program and have urged Congress to appropriate the necessary funds.  Congress responded by appropriating $20 million for the program in FY02 and again in FY03.  Last year, the Department of Transportation (DOT) selected 40 communities to participate in the program after Congress appropriated the first $20 million.

 

The FY03 Omnibus Appropriations bill, which Congress passed in February, includes another $20 million for the program.  With additional funding in place, DOT will solicit another round of proposals from communities and consortia of communities interested in participating in the program.  It is unclear when the agency will issue the order.  When it does, however, communities will likely have only 60 days to respond to receive priority consideration.  This is same amount of time that communities had last year. 

 

 

Why It’s Important to Airports

Under current law, the Small Community Air Service Development Pilot Program is limited to 40 communities, and no more than four communities or consortia of communities may be located in the same state.  Only those communities with insufficient air service or unreasonably high airfares are eligible to participate in the program.  The law also limits the eligibility to communities with small hubs and smaller airports based on calendar year 1997 data.  It also states that the airport must present "characteristics, such as geographic diversity or unique circumstances, that will demonstrate the need for, and the feasibility of, the program…."

 

The law requires DOT to give priority consideration to communities or a consortia of communities where:

 

          1) air fares are higher than the average air fares for all communities;

 

2) the community or consortium will proved a portion of the cost of the activity to be assisted under the program from local sources other than airport revenues;

 

3) the community or consortium has established, or will establish, a public-private partnership to facilitate air carrier service to the public; and

 

4) assistance will provide material benefits to a broad segment of the traveling public, including business, educational institutions, and other enterprises, whose access to the                    national air transportation system is limited. 

 

According to the legislation, DOT may use funds in the Small Community Air Service Development Pilot Program to provide assistance to: 

 

1) an air carrier to subsidize service to and from an underserved airport for a period not to exceed 3 years;

 

2) an underserved airport to obtain service to and from the underserved airport; and

 

3) an underserved airport to implement such other measures as the Secretary, in                    consultation with such airport, considers appropriate to improve air service both in terms of the cost of such service to consumers and the availability of such service, including improving air service through marketing and promotion of air service and enhance utilization of airport facilities.

 

A copy of the specific bill language included in AIR-21 may be viewed at:  http://airportnet.org/depts/federal/leigha/smallcommunity2.pdf.

 

Status

Administration's FY04 Budget Request:  On February 4, the Administration released its budget request for FY04.  Like the previous year, the Administration did not request any funds for the Small Community Air Service Development Pilot. 

 

FY03 Omnibus Appropriations Bill:  The FY03 Omnibus Appropriations bill, which Congress passed on February 13 and the President signed into law on February 20, includes $20 million for the Small Community Air Service Development Pilot Program.  This is the same amount that Congress approved the previous year. 

 

DOT Announces Communities to Participate in Program.  On June 26, 2002, DOT selected 40 communities from 38 states selected to participate in the Small Community Air Service Development Pilot Program.  As we expected, the demand for grants far exceeded the $20 million that Congress appropriated for the program in FY02.  DOT received 179 proposals requesting more than $142 million.  A copy of the press release and the list of communities that received funds may be viewed at:  http://www.dot.gov/affairs/dot06202.htm.  Specific proposals that communities submitted to DOT may be viewed at:  OST-2002-11590.

 

DOT Solicits Proposals:  On February 14, 2002, DOT issued an order soliciting proposals from communities and consortia of communities interested in participating in the Small Community Air Service Development Pilot Program.  The order included a list of items that DOT expected communities to include in their proposals.  It also had specific instructions on how to apply for funds in the Small Community Air Service Development Pilot Program.  A copy of the order that DOT issued may be viewed at:  http://airportnet.org/depts/federal/leigha/smallcommunity.pdf.

 

AAAE/ACI-NA Legislative Affairs Actions

Obtaining funding for the Small Community Air Service Development Pilot Program has been a top priority for the ACI-NA and AAAE since Congress created the program in AIR-21.  Both associations have passed resolutions expressing support for the program.  The following includes some of the letters that ACI-NA and AAAE have sent to Congress and some of the statements that the two associations have submitted to various committees requesting funds for the program: 

 

On March 6, 2003, ACI-NA President David Plavin urged the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee on Aviation to provide a major increase in funding for the Small Community Air Service Development Pilot Program in the next FAA reauthorization bill.  A copy of the testimony may be viewed at: http://airportnet.org/depts/federal/testimony/030303faareauth.pdf.

 

On February 25, 2003, ACI-NA President David Plavin urged the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Aviation to provide a major increase in funding for the Small Community Air Service Development Pilot Program in the next FAA reauthorization bill.  A copy of the testimony may be viewed at:  http://airportnet.org/depts/federal/testimony/022103faareauth.pdf.

 

On December 18, 2002, Plavin and Barclay sent a letter to House and Senate Appropriations Committee members requesting funding for the Small Community Air Service Development Pilot Program in the FY03 DOT Appropriations bill.  A copy of the letter may be viewed at:

http://airportnet.org/depts/federal/letters/2002Conferees.pdfhttp://airportnet.org/depts/federal/letters/1217PrioritiesLetter.pdf

 

In March 2002, Plavin and Barclay urged the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation to approve full funding for the Small Community Air Service Development Pilot Program in the FY03 DOT Appropriations.  A copy of their testimony may be viewed at:  http://airportnet.org/depts/federal/testimony/AppropsFY2003.pdf.

 

The letter that Plavin and Barclay sent to House and Senate Appropriations Committee members on October 16, 2001, requesting funding for the Small Community Air Service Development Pilot Program and the organization's other priorities in the conference report accompanying the FY02 DOT Appropriations bill may be viewed at:

http://airportnet.org/depts/federal/letters/2002Conferees.pdf

 

The letter that Plavin and Barclay sent to Senate Appropriations Committee members on July 11, 2001, requesting funding for the Small Community Air Service Development Pilot Program and the organization's other priorities for the FY02 DOT Appropriations bill may be viewed at:

http://airportnet.org/depts/federal/letters/senateapprops.pdf

 

The letter that Plavin and Barclay sent to House Appropriations Committee members on June 14, 2001, requesting funding for the Small Community Air Service Development Pilot Program and the organization's other priorities for the FY02 DOT Appropriations bill may be viewed at:  http://airportnet.org/depts/federal/letters/housemarkup.pdf

 

The statement that Plavin and Barclay submitted to the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation on April 6, 2001, requesting funding for the Small Community Air Service Development Pilot Program and the organization's other priorities for the FY02 DOT Appropriations bill may be viewed at:

http://airportnet.org/depts/federal/testimony/040601.pdf

 

Related Links

So far this year, the AAAE/ACI-NA Legislative Affairs Department has issued the following Airport Alerts and Hearing Reports regarding funding for the Small Community Air Service Development Pilot Program: 

 

     Volume 4, Number 11 - March 12, 2003, Small and Rural Community Air Service

 

     Volume 4, Number 10 - March 6, 2003, FAA Reauthorization Bill

 

     Volume 9, Number 17 - March 5, 2003, FAA Reauthorization Hearing

    

     Volume 9, Number 16 - February 27, 2003, Small Community Air Service Development Pilot Program

 

     Volume 4, Number 9 - February 25, 2003, FAA Reauthorization Bill

 

     Volume 9, Number 15 - February 24, 2003, President Signs Omnibus Spending Bill into Law

 

     Volume 9, Number 11 - February 13, 2003, Airports Win Big in Omnibus

 

     Volume 4, Number 7 - February 13, 2003, Reauthorization Bill

 

     Volume 9, Number 8  - February 3, 2003, Details on FY04 Budget Request

 

     Volume 9, Number 5 - January 24, 2003, Senate Passes Omnibus Appropriations Bill for FY 2003

 

During 2001-2002, the AAAE/ACI-NA Legislative Affairs Department issued the following Airport Alerts regarding funding for the Small Community Air Service Development Pilot Program: 

 

     Volume 8, Number 153 - FAA Reauthorization Bill Survey

 

     Volume 8, Number 150 - AAAE/ACI-NA Letter to Hill Urges More Airport Funding

 

     Volume 8, Number 149 - FAA Reauthorization Bill Survey

 

     Volume 8, Number 124 - House Committee Begins Action on DOT Spending Bill, Airports Poised to do Well

 

     Volume 8, Number 96 - Senate Appropriations Committee Approves FY03    Transportation Spending Bill

 

     Volume 8, Number 93 - Senate Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee Approves FY03 Transportation Spending Bill

 

     Volume 8, Number 82 - Weekend Update—FY02 Supplemental, FY03 DOT Bill,      Homeland Security

 

     Volume 8, Number 62 - Small Community Air Service Development Pilot Program

 

     Volume 8, Number 59 - Small Community Air Service Development Pilot Program

 

     Volume 8, Number 58 - Small Community Air Service Development Pilot Program Announcement

 

     Volume 8, Number 21 - Reminder that Proposals are Due on April 22

 

     Volume 8, Number 10 - DOT Issues Order Soliciting Proposals

    

     Volume 8, Number 9 - FY 2003 Airport Appropriations Priorities

 

     Volume 8, Number 7 - Fiscal Year 2003 Budget Request

         

     Volume 8, Number 4 - President Releases FY03 Budget Request

                                                                                                                         

     Volume 7, Number 189 - President Signs Transportation Spending Bill

 

     Volume 7, Number 182 - Senate Approves FY02 DOD Appropriations Bill

 

     Volume 7, Number 181 - DOD Approps Bill, Airport Reimbursement Update

 

     Volume 7, Number 178 - Senate Approves FY02 DOT Conference Report

 

     Volume 7, Number 177 - Update on DOD and DOT Appropriations Bills

 

     Volume 7, Number 176 - House Approves Transportation Spending Bill

 

     Volume 7, Number 175 - Conferees Approve FY02 DOT Spending Bill – Great News for Airports!

 

     Volume 7, Number 173 - FY02 DOT Spending Bill Deal

 

     Volume 7, Number 170 - Legislative Update at a Glance…..

 

     Volume 7, Number 153 - Legislative Update

 

     Volume 7, Number 135 - Letters on FY02 DOT Appropriations and Airport Bonds

 

     Volume 7, Number 70 - Senate Approves FY02 DOT Appropriations Bill

 

     Volume 7, Number 68 - Senate Invokes Cloture on Transportation Appropriations Bill

 

     Volume 7, Number 66 - Senate DOT Spending Bill Pulled From Floor

 

     Volume 7, Number 63 - Appropriations Update -- FY 02 DOT Spending Bill Stalled on Senate Floor

 

     Volume 7, Number 57 - Senate Appropriations Committee Marks-Up FY02 Spending

 

     Volume 7, Number 56 - Senate Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee Marks-Up FY02 Spending

 

     Volume 7, Number 52 - House Passes FY02 DOT Appropriations Bill -- **Video Clips Included**

 

     Volume 7, Number 51 - FY02 DOT Bill Hits the House Floor Tomorrow

 

     Volume 7, Number 49 - Full House Appropriations Committee Marks-Up FY02      Spending Bill

 

     Volume 7, Number 48 - House Transportation Appropriations Passes FY02 Spending Bill

 

     Volume 7, Number 47 - FY02 Transportation Appropriations Bill

 

     Volume 7, Number 44 - Cost-Free Space/Air Service Development Program – Airport Input Needed

 

     Volume 7, Number 43 - Air Service Development Pilot Program - "Do or Die" Time for Funding

 

     Volume 7, Number 32 - President Bush Releases FY02 Budget Request

 

     Volume 7, Number 27 - Small Community Air Service Development Program: We Need Your Help

 

     Volume 7, Number 22 - Identifying Airport Priorities in Fiscal Year 2002