President's budget could affect rural airports - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

President's budget could affect rural airports

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WATERLOO (KWWL) -

President Donald Trump's proposed budget could affect rural airports, not just in Iowa, but across the United States.

Essential Air Service, or EAS, is a government program that provides federal money for smaller airports.

Even though President Trump has proposed the cut, many state lawmakers are saying it's essential.

Two flights a day is the requirement for an airport to be part of Essential Air Service.

It's a system that provides money to the Waterloo Regional Airport.

Airport Director Keith Kaspari says President Trump's proposed elimination of EAS in his budget is concerning.

"The Essential Air Service Program for the US Department of Transportation always seems to be under the knife for cuts," Keith said.

Despite the the proposed budget, Kaspari believes Iowa lawmakers recognize the importance of EAS, and he's hopeful it won't be eliminated.

"We think that we have a good justification for our legislators, not just in Iowa, but throughout the US, Senators and Congressmen located in both houses, and on both sides of the aisle to continue to provide justification for continued funding for this program," Kaspari said.

Even though Waterloo Regional Airport isn't as busy as the Eastern Iowa Airport in Cedar Rapids or the Des Moines International Airport, there's still reported growth every year.

So, if the Essential Air Service subsidies were eliminated, the airport would have to find alternatives to pay for flights.

"Here in Waterloo, of course we should always be as a community, somewhat concerned when the current president identifies terminating, not reduction, but terminating an outright termination of funds to the USDOT's very popular Essential Air Service Program," Kaspari said.

If the service goes away, the airport would likely have to try working out a deal with American Airlines or other companies to maintain service.

Waterloo Regional Airport is just one of five Iowa airports in the Essential Air Service program.

Airports in Mason City, Fort Dodge, Sioux City, and Burlington would also be affected.

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