VERMONTVILLE - U.S. Rep. Bill Owens says it's unlikely the Adirondack Regional Airport in Lake Clear would get a fourth flight subsidized under the federal Essential Air Service program.
"I would be very surprised if they did that," Owens said Monday while touring a bison farm in Vermontville. "There's a lot of pressure on EAS anyway, from folks in the House (of Representatives) in particular, so I think it would be unlikely that they would add an additional subsidy."
Some regional business interests have joined a push by Saranac Lake residents Todd Smith and Lee Keet to get a subsidized flight to White Plains in Westchester County. Adirondack Health, North Country Community College, Paul Smith's College, Trudeau Institute, The Wild Center and others have joined the effort. They're asking local officials and Owens to petition the U.S. Department of Transportation for the additional flight.
Cape Air currently gets a $1.3 million annual subsidy to provide three daily round-trip flights between the Lake Clear airport and Boston under the EAS program. Proponents of adding a flight between Lake Clear and the New York City area say it would help the local economy.
The town of Harrietstown, which runs the airport, agreed last week to support the effort, although town officials stressed that they don't want to impact the current Lake Clear-Boston service, which was used by 11,800 passengers last year.
Owens said that concern will need to be researched.
"They're going to have to do some studies on that to see whether or not they'd get a decline in the amount of activity going to Boston, if you had a White Plains destination, because that would directly affect the EAS subsidy," he said.
Cape Air has proposed swapping out a fourth daily flight it has provided at its own expense between Lake Clear and Boston each of the last three summers with daily round-trip service between White Plains and Lake Clear, but that flight wouldn't be subsidized.
The U.S. DOT is accepting proposals for EAS service at the Lake Clear airport through the end of the month.
Contact Chris Knight at 891-2600 ext. 24 or firstname.lastname@example.org.