Federally subsidized air travel in Alaska is no longer under the threat of congressional budget cutting. Friday, the U.S. House passed a compromised version of the Federal Aviation Administration re-authorization bill. It keeps the Essential Air Service subsidy in place for rural Alaska communities, and it funds a number of airport improvements. Representative Don Young was one of the “yes” votes.
The bill ran into opposition from organized labor because it would hasten the automation of air traffic control systems.
The FAA bill puts $3.5 billion per year into airport improvements. Senator Mark Begich expects quick Senate action on the bill. When he appeared on the public radio call-in show “Talk of Alaska” this week he had just come out of a caucus meeting where they decided to take it up first thing next week.
The FAA re-authorization bill also exempts shipments of hospital oxygen from security regulations that would have barred them flying, and it calls for more use of remotely piloted research aircraft.
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