OPINION: Eliminating Essential Air Service will create real ‘flyover country’

Coach Bill Snyder Highway, also known as K-177, divides the Flint Hills of Kansas while making a route into Manhattan coming from the South. (File Photo by Evert Nelson | The Collegian)

Regions of the U.S. referred to as “flyover country” may actually become just that if a proposal in President Donald Trump’s budget plan to eliminate funding for the Essential Air Service passes.

The administration’s reason for the cuts? The program costs taxpayers a mere $175 million while “several EAS-eligible communities are relatively close to major airports.”

While Trump campaigned on a massive, trillion-dollar infrastructure project to “build the next generation of roads, bridges, railways, tunnels, sea ports and airports,” eliminating programs like the EAS would be counterintuitive to such ambitions.

The Hill reported that eliminating funding for EAS would result in “173 communities … including in Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Montana, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, South Dakota and Wyoming” having their airports shut down.

Eliminating the EAS would not leave airports in rural communities to sit and crumble over time, but local businesses would bear the brunt of the effects.

In an interview with The Hill, House Transportation Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pennsylvania), voiced this concern. “It’s such a vital link for rural America,” Congressman Shuster said.

Those airports bring in tourist dollars which can make or break a rural community. So cutting that “vital link” might kill those communities financially.

Aside from all the economic troubles many EAS-eligible communities would face if funding to the program is cut, those communities would literally become “flyover country.”

Caleb Snider is a sophomore in public relations. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Collegian. Please send comments to opinion@kstatecollegian.com.