WILLIAMSTOWN - A new bill aimed at speeding up the modernization of America's aviation system, West Virginia airports and air travel is likely to help the Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Airport, an official said.
"This is needed legislation," said Terry Moore, manager of the MOV airport. "It has been several years since an FAA bill has been passed the current one has just been patched over the years."
On Friday, Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, introduced the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Air Transportation Modernization and Safety Improvement Act.
The bill is aimed at speeding up the modernization of the country's aviation system by making airports and air travel safer while improving rural community access to air service and helping to support local aviation jobs.
"Sen. Rockefeller has been a great advocate of aviation and West Virginia's aviation and this bill shows that," Moore said.
The bill contains several provisions to help regional airports, which includes all of West Virginia's airports.
"West Virginia's aviation system is an incredibly important part of our economy - providing jobs and connecting our businesses and tourism to the rest of the world," Rockefeller said. "We must make sure that we continue to support our state aviation system by providing for our regional airports and making sure that we have the safest, most up-to-date equipment and that's exactly what this bill does."
One of these provisions is to maintain support for the Small Community Air Service Development Program (SCASDP), which was created by Rockefeller in 2005 to increase air service and help offset the cost of high ticket fares from small airports.
"We're the classic case of the Small Community Air Service Development Program," Moore said. "More support for it will certainly help keep the Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Airport here."
Another provision is improvements to the Essential Air Service (EAS) program to allow communities greater flexibility in attracting desired air service. The improvements include longer-term EAS contracts and development incentives for large airlines to code-share to small communities.
"I am absolutely in support of some of the proposed improvements," Moore said. "I would love to have a four-year contract because I don't like to go through the process of searching out airlines every 18 months, and two years usually isn't long enough to see if an airline will work.
The MOV airport began a two-year contract in October for commercial service with Gulfstream International Airlines to Cleveland through the EAS program.
A provision of the bill that Moore was pleased about is the increased funding for contract towers that benefit small community airports.
"That is an excellent improvement," Moore said. "There are only three towers in the state that are not contract towers and ours is funded at 100 percent.
"If we had to pay even a fraction of the tower it would be astronomical because there are six employees and the cost of operating the tower itself support for contract towers saves us a lot of money and brings people to our airport because we have a tower in place."
This bill was passed by the Senate last year but not by Congress. It will be on the Senate floor next week for fresh consideration.