Dear Secretary Foxx,
I write today to urge you to consider exercising your authority under 49 U.S.C. ~ 41731 in support of a Fiscal Year 2014 waiver for Essential Air Service (EAS) funding for the Chautauqua County Airport in Jamestown, New York. As you know, EAS funding is critical to the Chautauqua County community and without it there would not be commercial service available to residents or businesses in the region. For Fiscal Year 2013, Chautauqua County estimates that their enplanements per day will be 9.96, which is just 38 total passengers below the 10 per day average required for the year. There are a number of factors that have caused lower enplanement numbers in 2013, many if not all of which should not exist next year, and so as a result I urge you to approve a waiver and keep Chautauqua County eligible for EAS upon their request in 2014.
This past year alone Chautauqua County estimates that roughly 52 flights were canceled as a result of inclement weather and equipment failure, if those flights had not been cancelled then their enplanement number would have far exceeded the 10.0 required. Furthermore, there were a number of technical issues with the Automated Weather Observation Station (AWOS) which resulted in additional cancelled flights, the airline and airport are working together to correct those issues which will also result in an increase in enplanements.
In addition to addressing these issues, Chautauqua County is working in collaboration with Silver Airlines and local attractions like the Seneca-Alleghany Casino, Chautauqua Wine Trail, the Lucy-Desi Museum, the Chautauqua Institution and other local attractions to increase passenger counts through cross-promotion and collaboration. Lastly, Chautauqua County is working with Silver Airlines to negotiate lower-fare service from the airport, which has already had a net positive impact on ridership.
In the last three months passenger counts are up 17% from their 2012 totals and the airport expects that number to continue to increase.
It is for the above reasons that I strongly encourage you to issue a waiver to the Chautauqua County Airport and allow EAS funding to continue to be used to support service there.
It is good for local residents, will help boost tourism, and most importantly provides a valuable asset in the communities efforts to create and retain good, high paying, jobs in the region.
Charles E. Schumer