October 27, 2020
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The U.S. Department of Transportation issued $12.2 million in grants from its Small Community Air Service Development or SCASD program on February 24 to help 18 communities in 18 states “develop their own solutions” for local air service needs.

[Above photo by the Arizona DOT.]

That follows on the heels of the $520.5 million worth of Airport Improvement Program, or AIP grants, awarded to 287 airports in 41 states by the Federal Aviation Administration on February 19.

The agency said in a statement that since the inception of the SCASD program it has issued more than 400 grants, helping communities develop projects tailored to their own air service needs.

Photo by the Arizona DOT

USDOT noted that those grants are used to provide financial incentives to carriers, conduct studies on the possibilities of expanded service, and carry out marketing programs to promote existing local service, as well as address other challenges small communities and their airports may experience.

It added that nearly all of the communities have established robust public-private partnerships to enhance community participation and facilitate access to air services, provided a specific plan and timetable for using their grant funds in a timely manner, and many have provided letters of support from interested air carriers.

The USDOT’s latest fiscal support for airports follows the issuance of a new report conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP and funded by seven general aviation associations on February 19 that indicates general aviation supports more than 1.17 million U.S. jobs and a total of $246.8 billion in total U.S. economic output.

“U.S. economic growth and opportunity coming from the general aviation industry is increasing,” said Pete Bunce, president and CEO of the General Aviation Manufacturers Association in a statement.

Photo by Pennsylvania College of Technology

“This trend will only accelerate as supersonic and electrically propelled business aircraft drive deeper into their development phases,” he added.

In terms of the state-level economic impact of airports, a study issued by the Minnesota Department of Transportation on February 26 found that 126 of Minnesota’s 133 public airports generate $18.2 billion in annual economic activity statewide.

“This study shows that Minnesota general aviation and commercial aviation provide outsized value to the communities they serve,” said Cassandra Isackson, director of the office of aeronautics within the Minnesota DOT in a statement.

“Every airport serves its community in a unique way, from supporting local commerce and jobs to supplying essential emergency and medical services,” she said.

editor@aashto.org

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