The US Department of Transportation (DOT) has granted waivers from Essential Air Service (EAS) eligibility criteria to 25 communities across the country. It previously wanted to cancel the EAS eligibility at 21 of these towns and cities.

In an order issued on August 6, 2018, the DOT confirmed its earlier tentative waivers from the ten enplanements a day requirement and USD200 per passenger subsidy cap to four communities: Kearney, NE, Macon, GA, Pendleton, OR, and Scottsbluff, NE. Each of these airports experienced a service gap during Fiscal Year 2017.

The DOT also granted waivers to a further 21 communities which did not experience a service gap namely: Alamosa, CO, Altoona, PA, Bradford, PA, Du Bois, PA, Fort Dodge, IA, Franklin, PA, Hagerstown, MD, Jackson, TN, Johnstown, PA, Kirksville, MO, Lancaster, PA, Mason City, IA, Morgantown, WV, Muscle Shoals, AL, Owensboro, KY, Prescott, AZ, Pueblo, CO, Staunton, VA, Tupelo, MS, Vernal, UT, and Victoria, TX.

The DOT previously wanted to terminate the EAS eligibility at these 21 communities but received waiver petitions from each of them.

"The Department acknowledges that there were challenges arising from the air service provided at these communities, including a nationwide commercial pilot shortage, that caused reliability issues and resulted in increases in the per passenger subsidy. As noted in the waiver petitions, many communities currently have a new air carrier and passenger levels are increasing. All 21 communities, both those that have and have not experienced a carrier change, have indicated that they are working with their carrier to improve service and attract passengers, and expect their subsidy per passenger to decline," the DOT said, justifying its decision.

All exemptions were granted temporarily for Fiscal Year 2017. The DOT expects all 25 communities to comply with both the passenger enplanements requirement and the subsidy cap by September 30, 2018.