Measure by Pryor Could Benefit Jonesboro Airport

WASHINGTON - The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee today accepted two measures introduced by Senator Mark Pryor that would benefit air service in Arkansas as part of The Aviation Investment and Modernization Act of 2007.  The bill must now be approved by the full Senate.

During committee negotiation of the FAA legislation, Pryor's amendment was accepted to quell a plan to close the air traffic control tower in Little Rock and consolidate its services in Memphis until further studied.

Pryor also attached a measure to strengthen the Essential Air Service (EAS) program that benefits rural airports, including Jonesboro's.  To encourage air carriers to provide service in about 125 small, rural communities, the federal government provides a subsidy.  The air carrier receives its full subsidy even if the plane is not full of passengers.  Pryor's measure requires air carriers who bid for EAS contracts with the FAA to submit a marketing plan on how it plans to attract customers.  The Senator believes this approach will increase passenger boarding and make the EAS program more successful.