A spatial analysis of air transport access and the essential air service program in the United States

Tony H. Grubesic, Timothy C. Matisziw

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

33 Scopus citations


In the United States, the goal of essential air service (EAS) is to provide a minimum level of air transport service from smaller, often remote communities to the national network. While supporters of EAS tout the economic benefits of connecting rural and isolated communities, critics cite high costs, low use and antiquated eligibility requirements as factors which compromise the value of the program. In this paper, a comprehensive database of US airports is combined with network analysis techniques and a geographic information system to evaluate population access (at the census tract level) to EAS airports for 2006. Results suggest that redundant coverage of EAS market areas by alternative Federal Aviation Administration designated hub airports can contribute to EAS airport market leakage and that alternative definitions of EAS community eligibility have the potential to dramatically increase programmatic efficiency and reduce federal monies spent on EAS subsidies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)93-105
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Transport Geography
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2011



  • Accessibility
  • Airports
  • Essential air service
  • Hubs
  • Market leakage
  • Public policy
  • Spatial analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Transportation
  • Environmental Science(all)

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