President Donald Trump’s proposed budget reduces funding for many domestic programs including a service that funds operations at Barkley Regional Airport in Paducah. The 2018 budget calls for the elimination of the Essential Air Service. The program contracts certificated air carriers to serve small communities. Airport manager Richard Roof said the cut would “delete a substantial amount of funding” for airline services including commercial flights to the O’Hare International Airport in Chicago.
“There are more than 450 mainline united flights. 45 of those fly international. So you can get to Australia, Japan, places in South America as well as in Europe with one plane change and that’s in Chicago.” Roof said.
Roof said while commercial service would be affected, Barkley Regional is not in jeopardy of closing as none of the money from the Essential Air Service goes directly to the airport. The Essential Air Service contracts are between The U.S. Department of Transportation and the airlines themselves. He said the airport has transported more than a quarter of a million people to and from Chicago since 2010.