Section 2303 of the recent FAA extension requires that the Secretary of Transportation establish a “Working Group on Improving Air Service to Small Communities.” The provision states that “no later than one year after passage” (July 15, 2017), the Secretary will issue a report to Congress that provides a summary of the Working Group’s findings and recommendations for regulatory and/or legislative actions that would assist in improving air service to small communities.
The Working Group will operate completely independently from DOT. Their deliberations will be guided by the provisions of the statute, specifically those directing the Working Group to:
(1) consider whether funding for Essential Air Service Program (EAS), Small Community Air Service Development Program (SCASDP) and Airport Improvement Program (AIP) is sufficient, and
(2) identify initiatives to help increase the supply of commercially qualified pilots.
Additionally, we expect that the discussions and outcomes will also consider many factors, including post-consolidation among legacy carriers, demographic changes of the U.S. and globalization, legislative and regulatory changes affecting airlines and economics of operating smaller aircraft, and other structural impediments.
The Working Group comprises 25 stakeholders representing a cross-section of airport officials state aviation officials, regional airline executives, consultants, and academicians.