Aug 07, 2007 — As we heard in Jonathan's report, air travel in the North Country is heavily subsidized by a federal program called Essential Air Service. Since 1978, EAS has paid airlines like Big Sky to serve more than 140 rural communities nationwide. Federal, state and local governments have also spent millions of dollars more building airport infrastructures, including terminals and runways. Late last month, North Country Congressman John McHugh introduced a new bill that would expand funding for small town airports. The bill, which faces stiff opposition, would boost subsidies to airlines to reflect changes in their operating costs. It would also allow local and state governments to spend more to attract a preferred airline into a community, rather than accepting the lowest bidder for EAS subsidies. Congressman McHugh was in Saranac Lake yesterday touring the Adirondack Medical Center. After his visit, he spoke about rural air service with Brian Mann.