Congressman Vargas Pushes to Keep Imperial County Airport Doors Open

Washington, DC - Today, Congressman Juan Vargas (CA-51) sent a letter to Secretary Anthony Foxx of the United States Department of Transportation urging him to reconsider terminating the Essential Air Service (EAS) program in El Centro, California.  The “Federal Aviation Administration Modernization and Reform Act” requires subsidized communities to average ten passenger enplanements per service day in order to remain in the EAS program. 

For the first time in at least five years, the Imperial County Airport has fallen below the ten enplanement threshold, by reaching 9.5 enplanements.

“The Imperial County Airport has a remarkable track record of meeting and exceeding the EAS program requirements set by the government,” said Rep. Vargas.  “It is unacceptable that because of one year, in which it barely missed the enplanement threshold, the Imperial County Airport be put on the chopping block.”

According to the Department of Transportation, the Imperial County Airport has been well over the minimum enplanement for four of the last five years, with FY 2013 being the first year it fell below 10.  Beginning in FY 2009 and ending in FY 2012, the airport logged in 16, 17.7, 20, and 20.7 enplanements respectively.  In May FY 2013, the Imperial County Airport faced numerous changes under the EAS program, which contributed to the temporary decline in daily enplanements.

“The EAS program provides a vital service to the region and permanently removing Imperial County from the list of participating airports would have detrimental effect on the community,” said Rep. Vargas.  “I am optimistic that the Department of Transportation will determine that the Imperial County Airport should remain in the EAS program and continue to service the region.”

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