The City of Morgantown received notice today from the U.S. Department of Transportation granting a waiver to the Morgantown Municipal Airport to continue its participation in the federal Essential Air Service (EAS) program.
The order, which was issued by the USDOT on August 23, allows the Morgantown Municipal Airport to continue receiving federal funds through the EAS program. The EAS program helps subsidize the cost of commercial air service to small communities, which is why it is critical in retaining affordable commercial air service in Morgantown. This is the second consecutive year that Morgantown has been granted a waiver from the USDOT to continue in the EAS program.
“This is great news,” said Morgantown City Manager Paul Brake. “We’re thankful to the Department of Transportation for its continued support and for granting this waiver.”
To maintain eligibility in the EAS program, an airport must maintain an average of 10 enplanements or more per service day. Furthermore, if the airport is located less than 210 miles from the nearest large- or medium-hub airport it cannot exceed a subsidy of more than $200 per passenger. Over the past two years, the Morgantown Municipal Airport has exceeded the $200 subsidy cap.
“The airport has proven there is enough demand in the community for commercial air service. So, it essentially has met the thresholds meant to comply with the eligibility requirements,” said Brake. “This year, the number of enplanements and subsidy rates are trending in the right direction which is what we want to see.”
Southern Airways Express has been the commercial carrier at the Morgantown Municipal Airport since 2016. It provides 38 round trip nonstop flights weekly to Pittsburgh International Airport and Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport.
"We are appreciative that the Department of Transportation has agreed that our downturn in enplanements from last year was temporary and has continued our participation in the program,” said Mark Cestari, chief commercial officer for Southern Airways Express. “Last month we posted the highest passenger counts in over two years and this month will be even better. We are truly moving in the right direction with our air service product at Morgantown."