Journal Of Air Transport Management, vol.34, pp.24-29, 2014 (Journal Indexed in SSCI)
The Essential Air Service Program (EAS) has attracted considerable criticism and has been a target for either modification or complete termination almost since its inception through the Airline Deregulation Act in 1978. Although its opponents emphasize the program's inefficiency, its supporters claim that the program is crucial to accessing small and remote communities, which helps them develop economically and socially. This paper demonstrates the economic contributions of EAS flights to small and remote communities. Using a two-stage least squares estimation, the major findings indicate that a 1% increase in air passenger traffic in EAS airports with a minimum annual air passenger traffic of 1000 likely leads to a 0.12% increase in per capita income of the community served by that airport. Our results also suggest that EAS communities that are able to sustain their subsidized flights experienced higher per capita income growth in the 1999–2011 period than did ex-EAS communities that lost their flights as a result of non-eligibility.