Proposed Federal Budget Would Remove Subsidies for Small Missouri Airports

Mar 17, 2017

Some small regional airports in Missouri may be facing budget cuts at the federal level.

The Trump administration’s proposed budget suggests eliminating the Essential Air Service program, which provides support to small regional airports, including the Kirksville Regional Airport, Waynesville-St. Robert Regional Airport, Cape Girardeau Regional Airport and Joplin Regional Airport.

The program was established in 1978 to help regional airports more than 210 miles from the nearest large or medium airport. As of June 2015, the program subsidized about 150 airports, mostly in rural areas.

Kirksville Assistant City Manager Ashley Young says commercial airfare from Kirksville Regional Airport to St. Louis could significantly increase if the cuts pass.

"Ticket prices would go from $52 for a one-way ticket to $240," he said. "Obviously, that makes it more difficult for folks to purchase plane tickets because it’s more than- more than quadrupling the price."

Young said if the airline decided to eliminate flights from Kirksville Regional Airport altogether, this would result in the termination of about 11 full-time jobs associated with the airport.