Recent Press Releases

Washington, D.C. —  Senator John Thune today sent a letter to Kip Hawley, the Administrator of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) requesting that the passenger screening equipment at the Brookings Airport not be relocated seeing that Congress is working to restore commercial air service.

"Moving the screening equipment from Brookings to another location would be an unnecessary expense and hassle," said Thune. "I am hopeful that Congress will restore commercial air service to Brookings in the near future and that TSA can honor my request."

Because a small provision of the Essential Air Service (EAS) program expired on September 30, 2007, Great Lakes Aviation was left with no choice but to discontinue passenger air service between Brookings and Denver, Colorado. The EAS program provides a federal subsidy for smaller communities who would not otherwise have regularly scheduled passenger air service.

While Congress has been delayed in passing legislation that would reauthorize our nation's aviation system, the bill that awaits consideration in the Senate (S. 1300) includes Thune's provision that would continue EAS service to Brookings through 2012. Due to the delay in passing S. 1300, Senator Thune has been working in a bipartisan manner on an alternative strategy that would restore EAS service in three states (SD, PA, and MD) for one year. If Congress is unable to complete action on the larger multi-year aviation bill before the end of the year, Senator Thune is hopeful that a one-year extension of EAS eligibility can be signed into law.

November 28, 2007

Kip Hawley
Assistant Secretary
Transportation Security Administration
601 South 12th Street
Arlington, Virginia 22202-4220

Dear Assistant Secretary Hawley:

I write to ask for your assistance concerning the potential relocation of passenger screening equipment at the Brookings airport (BKX) in my home state of South Dakota.

As you may be aware, because Section 409(d) of Public Law 108-176 expired on September 30, 2007, commercial air service was subsequently discontinued to BKX under the Essential Air Service program administrated by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

While Congress is still working to pass a modernization bill for our nation's aviation needs, including an extension of Section 409(d), I ask that TSA hold off on moving any of the passenger screening equipment because it is my hope that in the coming months, passenger air service will be restored to Brookings. This is based on the fact that the Senate Commerce Committee's FAA reauthorization bill (S. 1300), which I worked to report out of Committee, includes a five year extension of Section 409(d). Additionally, on October 30, 2007 the Senate unanimously approved S. 2265, which would provide a one-year extension of section 409(d) to give Congress time to finalize the long-term reauthorization bill.

Although the House passed S. 2265 with an amendment on November 6, 2007, the Senate has yet to resolve outstanding issues unrelated to the one-year extension of Section 409(d). Nevertheless, I am hopeful that the outstanding issues can be dealt with before Congress adjourns for the year.

I would appreciate your assistance in keeping the passenger screening equipment that is currently being stored at BKX in anticipation of commercial air service being restored in the near future. This would not only save you from the costs involved with transport but also remobilization once commercial air service starts back up.

I look forward to hearing from you and will certainly keep you posted concerning my efforts as I work with my colleagues to reestablish commercial air service in Brookings and other airports that were impacted by the expiration of Section 409(d).

If you have any questions regarding this request, please feel free to contact me directly or your staff can contact my legislative director, David Schwietert at 202-228-5340.

Kindest regards,
John Thune
United States Senator