by Dr. Anthony Grubesic, Arizona State University
Presentation Date: October 27, 2016

The Essential Air Service (EAS) program continues to receive millions in federal funding to provide air travel access to rural communities in the United States. Regular assessment and evaluation of the performance of this program are important, given limited federal resources and fiduciary duties. In fact, this program has garnered significant attention through the years because it was originally conceived to offer temporary financial bridging for maintaining commercial air service in rural and remote communities following deregulation of the airline industry in 1978, yet has continued to be funded at increasing rates for the past thirty-seven years. This presentation undertakes a systematic analysis of the EAS program in terms of geographic access, operational efficiency and related programmatic goals and objectives. A spatial optimization model is used to examine service performance of the existing system. Program insights as well as strategies for enhancing efficiencies for rural air transportation service in the United States are discussed.