[Excerpt] Rural America needs safe, efficient, reliable, and accessible passenger air service. Federal government subsidies have long been necessary to assure that residents in smaller, less profitable markets have access to the nation’s transportation network. That access is necessary for a community’s economic health, is arguably a right of all taxpayers and residents, and is in public interest. But market forces within the aviation industry are today driving a restructuring that may curtail or eliminate service to many communities in the nation. And the present political climate raises a serious question about the federal government’s continued commitment to the nation’s rural air transportation system.
This report focuses on the state of passenger air service in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula [U.P.]. The U.P. is among the most geographically remote areas in the eastern half of the United States. The region’s economic, social, and cultural institutions are increasingly related to a global marketplace. These depend, in varying degrees, on access to the national and global transportation network. Scheduled, commercial passenger air service is especially critical for this area too distant from passenger rail, without adequate commercial bus service, with few four-lane highways and very limited connection to the Interstate Highway system.