Here’s the deal with Essential Air Service, or EAS. The United States Department of Transportation subsidizes flights to smaller cities and towns across the country, places that would be cut off from commercial airline grid without the help.
Now comes word that Delta Connection will be out and American Eagle in at Sioux City and Waterloo, Iowa. In practical terms, here’s what that means: fliers headed to or from these two cities will be making their connections over Chicago O’Hare rather than Minneapolis/Saint Paul.
In the wake of the announcement, Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) said, “Connecting Sioux City and Waterloo air service through O’Hare will improve the flying options for travelers.” According to Airports Council International – North America, O’Hare is the second-busiest airport in North America, and Minneapolis No. 15.
Harkin went on to say he’s “hopeful that American Airlines will be able to expand their air service to both cities over time, eliminating he need for federal support.”
Look for the switch from Delta Connection to American Eagle to happen in the spring of 2012. Eagle says it will fly 44- to 50-seat Embraer Regional Jets on the runs.
Here are the proposed schedules for Eagle’s two new routes:
Twice-daily Sioux City flights to Chicago flights are planned to depart at 6:30 a.m. and 3:10 p.m. respectively and arrive at 7:55 a.m. and 4:40 p.m. Return Chicago flights to Sioux City are planned to leave the gate at 12:50 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. and get to Sioux Gateway Airport at 2:35 p.m. and 9:15 p.m.
Waterloo flights to O’Hare are also twice-daily affairs. American Eagle’s plans for Waterloo flights to Chicago to depart at 6:30 a.m. and 4:20 p.m. and arrive ORD at 7:30 a.m. and 5:20 p.m. The proposal for Chicago flights to Waterloo calls for departures at 2:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. and arrive at 3:45 p.m. and 8:45 p.m.
In these times of economic angst how do you feel about government subsidies of air service to some smaller cities? Should Essential Air Service be axed?
Story by Jerry Chandler
(Image: Dmitry Klimenko)Jerry Chandler