Mason City along with two other Iowa airports could lose commercial air service under President Trump’s proposed budget. Airports in Burlington and Fort Dodge 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.
Pam Osgood is the director of the Mason City Municipal Airport. She says that the economic impact on losing those federal subsidies would result in commercial air service ending there which would have tremendous negative impacts on Mason City and surrounding communities like Forest City.
Those who travel out of the area to take connecting flights either domestically or internationally, can use the services at the Mason City airport to connect to major hubs in Chicago, Minneapolis, and St. Louis to get to their ultimate destination instead of traveling to Des Moines and connecting there.
Mary Beaird is director of the Southeast Iowa Regional Airport in Burlington.
Like Osgood, Beaird says if the program is cut, Burlington will not provide commercial flights.
The airport in Burlington would lose almost two-million dollars a year, but it would remain open for private air travel.
Osgood feels confident that both Senators Charles Grassley and Joni Ernst will fight to keep the Essential Air Service program alive. Representative Steve King’s office says that he favors continuation of the program.
The Mason City Municipal Airport has just signed a four year deal with Air Choice One Airlines which was recently approved by the Department of Transportation. Currently, the airline offers three flights to and from St. Louis, Minneapolis and Chicago for just under $100 one way.