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March 20, 2017

Trump budget proposal threatens passenger flights at rural Maine airports

Several Maine airports could face drastic reductions in passenger flights under President Donald Trump's proposed budget, which eliminates funding for the U.S. Department of Transportation's Essential Air Service program.

The Bangor Daily News reported that Knox County Regional Airport in Owls Head, Bar Harbor Airport in Trenton, Northern Maine Regional Airport in Presque Isle and Augusta State Airport could lose as much as $10 million in federal funding if the EAS program is eliminated.

The federal program was created in the late 1970s to mitigate airline deregulation by enabling impacted small airports to continue to maintaining a minimum level of scheduled air service.

"If the Essential Air Service program ceased to exist, I think it's highly unlikely we would have a year-round carrier here," Brad Madeira, manager of Bar Harbor Airport in Trenton, told the newspaper.

Cape Air has contracts to serve Augusta, Rockland and Bar Harbor year round. Pen Air has a contract to serve Presque Isle year round and to serve Bar Harbor in the summer, when seasonal traffic to and from Mount Desert Island increases, the newspaper reported.

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