Recent Press Releases

Washington, D.C. —  Today, Senator John Thune introduced bipartisan legislation that seeks to restore commercial air service to Brookings and two other airports that were recently impacted by the September 30, 2007 expiration of a provision in the 2003 Federal Aviation bill. Senator Thune's legislation was co-sponsored by Senators Ben Cardin (D-MD), Robert Casey, Jr. (D-PA), Tim Johnson (D-SD), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), and Arlen Specter (R-PA).

"Essential Air Service is just that, essential. It is essential to the people it serves and it is essential that we work together to find a way to maintain commercial air service for Brookings," said Thune. "Ensuring access to communities like Brookings strengthens the local economy, provides consumers with choices, and makes the entire commercial airline network more valuable."

While the Senate Commerce Committee, which Senator Thune serves on, approved the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization bill to improve and modernize our nation's aviation system, including Senator Thune's legislation to maintain Essential Air Service (EAS) service in Brookings through 2012, this legislation has yet to be considered by the full Senate. In light of this delay, Great Lakes Aviation was forced to discontinue its air service to Brookings on October 1st. Senator Thune's bipartisan legislation would return air service to Brookings for one year while the FAA Reauthorization is finalized by Congress.

In 2003, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) determined that EAS subsidies to communities where the current subsidy was over $200 per passenger and within 210 miles of a large hub airport would be discontinued. Brookings was one of the airports impacted by this decision due to its payment rates and its proximity to the Minneapolis airport. Congress passed the FAA bill shortly thereafter which directed the Secretary of Transportation to consult with governors affected by EAS changes to determine if the route used by the DOT was the "most commonly used" route. Governor Rounds determined that the most commonly used route was over 210 miles from Brookings which left the subsidy and air service intact for Brookings until the expiration of the FAA bill last month.