Rural Alaska air travel subsidies survive budget cuts
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WASHINGTON — Subsidies for rural Alaska air travel survived the cost-cutting talk as Congress passed a four-year funding bill for the Federal Aviation Administration on Monday after years of dispute.

Alaska is part of a hotly contested federal subsidy program known as Essential Air Service. The advocacy group Citizens Against Government Waste called the subsidies “low hanging fruit, something all members of Congress should oppose.” Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain tried to kill the program entirely.

Modest cuts were made to the Lower 48 portion of the program but Alaska’s subsidies emerged unscathed in the FAA bill, which passed the House on Friday and the Senate on Monday evening. The president is expected to sign it into law.

More than $ 12.5 million in federal subsidies goes to encourage airlines to fly to 144 of the more remote communities in Alaska. That includes places like Elfin Cove, Gulkana and Minto, served by small air carriers, as well as towns like Cordova, Wrangell, Yakutat and Gustavus that have Alaska Airlines flights. Alaska’s congressional delegation has made the program a priority, saying it could be too expensive for airlines to service the areas if not for the subsidy.

Alaska Rep. Don Young, who is on the House transportation committee, said he was “especially proud” that Alaska saw no cuts in the program. The three m…………… continues on

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Global Airline Capacity Growth Continues as Air Travel Expands in Asia Pacific
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According to information released by OAG, an industry icon known for comprehensive information and services provided to the world’s airlines, airports, aircraft manufacturers and travel companies, the growth in scheduled flights worldwide continues again in February with airlines providing 5% more flights.

The air travel growth trend is in line with the general worldwide trend for larger aircraft. The growth translates to a slightly larger capacity increase of 6%, which often leads to more discount airline tickets for some airlines, as the average available seats in February 2012 nudges towards 127 per aircraft versus 125 in the same period last year.

According to OAG, this marks the ninth consecutive month of growth compared to the same period last year.

Frequency and Capacity Trend Statistics (FACTS) for February 2012 indicate that most of the airline growth is happening outside of the United States. The largest increase in demand growth is in Central and South America and across the Middle East. The three areas of the world posted double-digit growth.

One the Asia Pacific travel volume growth surpasses the numbers seen in the aforementioned regions. With growth increase of 8.9 million seats in February compared the same time last year, Asia Pacific and South America represent 64% of the total worldwide volume growth.

“The exp…………… continues on Newstar Media

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