Sen. Peters expresses importance of funding airports during tour

KINGSFORD — It was all hands on deck Thursday at Ford Airport in Kingsford as U.S. Senator Gary Peters toured the facility.

Ford Airport is one of 170 rural airports across the country that uses Essential Air Services (EAS) funding to make sure those airports have the funding they need to function.

“As I was here, Delta Airlines came in here because of EAS that allows them to operate in a finally secure way,” said Sen. Peters.

Future funding for EAS is up in the air. President Trump’s budget proposal would defund all $175 million that funds the EAS program.

Peters says losing that funding would be devastating for several U.P. airports.

“This is a program that’s aptly named, ‘Essential Air Service.’ You can’t bring businesses into a community unless you have air service,” said Peters. “People need to have access to that and the rest of the world.”

“Having Senator Peters here seeing firsthand what would happen if it did go away was perfect timing,” said Tim Howen, airport manager at Ford Airport.

Congress has until September 30th to pass a budget in order to avoid a government shutdown. Last month, Senator Peters announced the airport would receive $5 million in grant money from the Department of Transportation to repave a 6,500 foot long runway.

“The main runway is going to be completely redone. It should only take 15 days because we’ll be working around the clock,” said Howen. “The lighting for the airport will all be replaced as well.”

The runway work will be done in the spring of 2018.