In 1998, R.A. Wiedemann & Associates, Inc. was selected in association with the University of Illinois to perform a national assessment of the Essential Air Service Program for the U.S. Department of Transportation. In this regard, the DOT has increased its funding for the Essential Air Service (EAS) Program in recent years and needed an analytical measuring tool assess the program. In particular, the DOT was interested in determining what impact air service is having on the growth and development of rural America.
In response to this charge, the University of Illinois/R.A. Wiedemann & Associates, Inc. team developed a study process that would measure the impacts of air service on small communities. This process included the use of complex economic growth comparison models, commodity flow models, survey questionnaires for selected cities and travel agencies, and comparisons to international intermodal systems. Key to the study is the determination of relevant new criteria that can be used to determine a community’s eligibility for EAS inclusion. Economic justification for subsidy is critical, particularly in a deregulated market environment.
The results of the study will give the DOT the necessary tools to assess the impact of the EAS program on economic development in rural America, to measure the effectiveness of expenditures on any particular EAS community, and to provide justification for the inclusion of new or different communities in the program.