Payments for Essential Air Services

To assure that air transportation is provided to eligible communities by subsidizing air carriers when necessary to provide service.

Examples of Funded Projects

(1) Great Lakes Aviation-Essential Air Service to Alliance, Chadron, Kearney, and McCook, Nebraska.

(2) Big Sky Airlines-Essential Air Service to Glasgow, Glendive, Havre, Lewistown, Miles City, Sidney, and Wolf Point, Montana.

(3) Alaska Airlines-Essential Air Service to Cordova, Gustavus, Petersburg, Wrangell, and Yakutat, Alaska.

Agency - Department of Transportation

The Department of Transportation's mission is to ensure fast, safe, efficient, accessible and convenient transportation that meets vital national interests and enhances the quality of life of the American people, today and into the future.

Program Accomplishments

Essential air service has been maintained with subsidy support at approximately 154 communities affected by airline deregulation.

Uses and Use Restrictions

When necessary subsidy payments are made to air carriers providing air services at certain points.

Subsidy is paid to cover the carrier's prospective operating loss, plus a profit element.

Eligibility Requirements

Applicant Eligibility

Air carrier must be found fit and be selected by the Department to perform the subsidized service.

Beneficiary Eligibility

Air carriers and eligible local communities.


Financial statements and detailed operating statistics.

Aplication and Award Process

Preapplication Coordination


This program is excluded from coverage under E.O.


Application Procedures

In accordance with 14 CFR, Part 271, and specific Department requests in docketed cases.

Award Procedures

Evaluation of applications according to factors established in 49 U.S.C. 41731, et seq., and any Department-established factors.




49 U.S.C. 41731 - 41742.

Range of Approval/Disapproval Time

From 2 to 4 months.


In accordance with 14 CFR, Part 302.14.


If selected air carrier is willing to renew, renewal may be by show-cause procedures under Part 302 of the Department's regulations; otherwise, application procedures are repeated.

Assistance Considerations

Formula and Matching Requirements


Length and Time Phasing of Assistance

In accordance with Department evaluation and determination of demonstrated need.

Post Assistance Requirements




Air carriers are subject to audits of financial and operational fitness, of major contested claims of compensation for continued service, and of monthly billings to the Department for subsidy.


Air carriers must retain all books, records and other source and summary documentation for 7 years to support subsidy claims.

Financial Information

Account Identification



(Direct payments) FY 07 $50,000,000; FY 08 est not available; and FY 09 est not reported.

Range and Average of Financial Assistance

For continental United States: $247,122 to $1,733,997 annually per point; $636,161 annually per point average.

Regulations, Guidelines, and Literature

49 U.S.C. 41731, et seq.; 14 CFR, Parts 204, 271, 323, 325, 398.

Information Contacts

Regional or Local Office


Headquarters Office

Director, Office of Aviation Analysis, X-50, Department of Transportation, 400 Seventh Street, SW., Washington, DC 20590. Telephone: (202) 366-5903 Use the same number for FTS.

Criteria for Selecting Proposals

Established by statute and by precedent in individual docketed cases.

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