Trump's Budget Plan Could End Passenger Flights to Rural Iowa Airports

Mar 20, 2017

The Cessna Grand Caravan is used for commercial flights between Burlington, Iowa and major cities in the Midwest.
Credit DLR German Aerospace Center

Three Iowa airports could lose commercial air service under President Donald Trump’s proposed budget.

Airports in Burlington, Fort Dodge and Mason City depend on federal subsidies to provide regular flights to major cities in the Midwest. Trump has proposed eliminating the Essential Air Service program, which makes those flights possible.

Mary Beaird is director of the Southeast Iowa Regional Airport in Burlington.

“We serve about 15,000 passengers to St. Louis, Chicago and Minneapolis a year," Beaird said. "And if the president cuts the Essential Air Service program, we will lose all that funding, and we will lose that service for our local citizens.”

The airport in Burlington would lose about $1.9 million annually. 

“I think the Essential Air Service definitely boosts the industry and the economy in the area," Beaird said. "It would just provide that connectivity for business travelers as well as the quality of life for our other residents.”

If Essential Air Service is eliminated from the federal budget, the Southeast Iowa Regional Airport would remain open for private air travel.