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Commercial Service 85 Master Planning Issues At the local level, the airport master plan is the document that charts the proposed develop- ment of the airport to meet future needs. Master planning is covered in more detail in Chapter 4, "Airport Planning and Development." Essential Air Service Program History The 1958 Federal Aviation Act provided commercial air service to small communities author- izing air carriers to receive compensation when such communities would not otherwise receive such service. The Airline Deregulation Act of 1978 significantly changed the airline market, mak- ing the EAS program even more important to small communities. The deregulation act stated that any community receiving scheduled air service from a certificated air carrier on October 24, 1978, was an eligible EAS community. Today, the EAS program serves approximately 140 rural communities that may not otherwise receive scheduled airline service. The EAS program con- tinues to be funded through congressional reauthorization and, as of 1998, operates under a per- manent funding mechanism of $50 million. Guidelines EAS in the lower 48 states typically involves two reasonably scheduled round trips, six days a week, using, at a minimum, a 15-seat passenger twin aircraft. The flights must operate from the EAS airport to a hub airport. The U.S.DOT will normally select an air carrier to provide the service for two years. To be eligible as an EAS community, a community must have been served by a certificated air carrier on October 24, 1978. To remain eligible, the community must be farther than 70 highway miles from an FAA-designated medium- or large-hub airport. The passenger subsidy may not exceed $200 per passenger. However, an exception allows the passenger subsidy to exceed $200 if the community is located more than 210 highway miles from the nearest medium- or large-hub airport. The EAS process begins when the airline operator applies to the U.S.DOT and proposes service for the EAS airport. The department then contacts the EAS community and solicits comments con- cerning the proposal. Upon approval, the U.S.DOT may continue to solicit comments from the community on the level of service provided by the air carrier. Designation as an EAS community does not guarantee air service forever. There are provisions for the air carrier to terminate, suspend, or modify the service by filing a 90-day notice to the U.S.DOT and the community. The U.S.DOT can prohibit the air carrier from ending service until replaced by another qualified carrier. Airline Use Agreements Relationships Between the Airport and Airlines Once a community is on the road to securing air service from an airline, airport management will need to focus on a contract or lease agreement with the respective airline(s) that will be agree- able to both parties. This legally binding agreement is commonly termed an "airport use agree- ment" and it defines the roles, responsibilities, and risks of each party.