HAGERSTOWN, Md. (WDVM) — The United States Department of Transportation could stop a federally funded program completed through Hagerstown Regional Airport.
According to Washington County Government, the Department of Transportation issued an Essential Air Service Termination notice to HGR on Aug. 23. According to officials, this means that if the notice, which will be effective by Oct. 18, 2019, goes through, then daily flights through Southern Airways will no longer be of service. According to the county, HGR must stay on track with specific, daily goals in order to receive continued financial support through the program. County Administrator Rob Slocum reported that the county is already on track and has been the entire year.
“We are very encouraged by the congressional support we’ve received because the is a DOT issue, this is at the federal level and we are getting federal support from our state delegation as well as our commissioners,” Slocum said.
According to Transportation.gov, the Essential Air Service (EAS) program was put into place to guarantee small communities that were served by certificated air carriers before airline deregulation maintain a minimal level of scheduled air service. The United States Department of Transportation (the Department) is mandated to provide eligible EAS communities with access to the National Air Transportation System. Flights currently fly to BWI and PIT.
County commissioners plan to appeal to overturn the EAS termination notice. Both United States Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen, as well as Congressman David Trone, wrote a letter to United States Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao in support of Washington County’s effort to disseminate the termination. Senator Cardin’s office said that the DOT invested $1 million in HGR’s terminal expansion to support potential growth. To view the complete letter, click here.