Letter: Lebanon Airport’s Staggering Subsidies

To the Editor:

Thank you for reporting on the staggering amount of federal subsidies for the Lebanon airport passenger service (“Lebanon Airport Nears Milestone,” Nov. 19). The Essential Air Service program “provides an annual subsidy of $2.2 million to Cape Air.” Now the airline offers “reduced fares” to reach a goal of 10,000 outbound passengers, so the airport can qualify for another subsidy of $1 million.

Let’s put the numbers into perspectives. Last year saw 9,324 outbound passengers from Lebanon. A simply calculation shows that each ticket was subsidized by $236 for flights to either New York or Boston.

This air service is by no means essential. The Upper Valley is connected by two interstates and a railroad to the Northeastern metropolitan centers. The flight to Boston takes 55 minutes, a car ride 120 minutes. For those who do not want to drive, we have two bus companies serving New York City and Boston, and Amtrak with a daily connection down to D.C. A roundtrip to Logan Airport costs $60.

Given the options and connections, it makes no economic or ecologic sense to maintain an active air passenger service from Lebanon Airport. And I suspect that the real beneficiaries of the federal subsidy are the few very rich who commute to Lebanon with their private or corporate jets, for whatever reason.

It is time to ask them to fully pay for the luxurious lifestyle they chose to afford.

Oliver Herfort