Venango County officials have twenty days in which to appeal the decision late last week by the U.S. Department of Transportation to terminate federal funding from the Essential Air Service (EAS) program for air service through Venango Regional Airport in Franklin.
The tentative order issued Thursday also affects twelve other airports across the country, including DuBois and Bradford here in Pennsylvania.
Venango Regional has been in this position before, but this time the order coincides with an announcement made earlier this year by Silver Airways, which currently provides flights between Franklin, DuBois and Cleveland that they would be discontinuing their flights by the middle of May.
Regulations adopted in 2012 for EAS funding requirements stipulate that a facility must average ten “enplanements” per day, unless it is located 175 miles or more away from an airline hub. In Venango County in 2013, local “enplanements” averaged around half the required daily totals. Many officials and would-be passengers have blamed the lower numbers in recent years on the switch in providers, which resulted in connections through Cleveland, and not through Pittsburgh.
Meanwhile, there reportedly have been four proposals submitted by air companies which are interested in providing service to Venango Regional, if flights continue, and all four would reportedly link the Franklin facility to Pittsburgh.