Funding that subsidizes domestic flight services at Barkley Regional Airport in Paducah will return in the 2018 federal budget and be fully restored in 2019. Transportation secretary Elaine Chao made the announcement in a meeting with Paducah business leaders in Washington D.C. last week.
City leaders were in D.C. to discuss community issues with federal officials. Chamber of Commerce President Sandra Wilson said Chao was very supportive of Paducah’s infrastructure needs.
“One of the priorities that we had going to D.C. was to make sure our federal delegation knew the importance of the Essential Air Service funding for Barkley," Wilson said.
Wilson said the airport puts around 43 million dollars annually into the economy. She also said Chao assured continued support for airport improvement grants.
President Donald Trump’s proposed 2018 budget ended funding for the Essential Air Service, a program that contracts certified air carriers to serve small communities. Airport manager Richard Roof has said the cuts would have ‘deleted’ substantial funding including commercial flights to Chicago.
Other issues including Paducah’s DOE site and education were discussed among 22 meetings with more than 30 officials in DC. The group met with Chao and Secretary of Energy Rick Perry, among other officials.