Wyoming Department of Transportation

Frequently Asked Questions


Frequently Asked Questions


What is the Essential Air Service Program (EAS)

In 1978, believing that market competition among airlines would improve service and lower fares for the traveling public, Congress passed the Airline Deregulation Act of 1978. This landmark legislation eliminated Federal controls over domestic fares and routes served and allowed market forces to determine price, quality, and quantity of domestic commercial air service.

Since the passage of the Airline Deregulation Act, aviation has become an essential form of travel for much of the nation. The number of commercial air travelers has grown dramatically, from 312 million travelers in 1980 to 740 million in 2006, an increase of 137 percent. Overall, airline deregulation has brought better service at lower prices to the majority of communities around this country. However, many small and medium-sized communities have struggled to obtain and retain commercial air passenger service, because they often lack the population base and economic activity to generate the passenger traffic necessary to make air service consistently profitable. Even if a community is large enough to sustain a basic level of service, it may still have difficulty attracting more than one or two air carriers to provide consumer choice or low fare competition.

At the time the Airline Deregulation Act was enacted, 746 communities in the United States and its territories were listed on air carrier operating certificates as receiving scheduled air service. Prior to deregulation, air carriers' certificates generally required carriers to schedule and provide two daily round trips at each point on their certificates. The prospect of allowing carriers to terminate scheduled service without prior government approval raised concern that communities with lower traffic levels would lose service entirely, as carriers shifted their operations to larger, potentially more lucrative markets.

Under the EAS program, DOT determines the minimum level of service required at each eligible community by specifying a hub through which the community is linked to the national network; a minimum number of round trips that must be provided to that hub (typically two daily round-trip flights, six days per week); certain characteristics of the aircraft to be used; and the maximum permissible number of intermediate stops to the hub. Where necessary, the Department pays a subsidy to a carrier to ensure that the specified level of service is provided. Most certificated points do not require subsidized service. The highest number of communities subsidized during the program's history was 405 in 1980. As of April 1, 2007, DOT was subsidizing service at 145 communities (41 in Alaska and 104 elsewhere in the US).

The 1987 reauthorization act specified an increased minimum level of service-¬termed "basic" essential air service -- for any community that was eligible for service under the earlier program and was actually receiving service during any part of fiscal year 1998. "Basic" essential air service required the following:

  • Service to a medium or large-hub airport;
  • Service with no more than one intermediate stop to the hub;
  • Service with aircraft having at least 15 passenger seats per flight at communities that averaged more than 11 passenger enplanements a day in any year from 1976-1986;
  • Under certain circumstances, service with pressurized aircraft; and
  • Flights at reasonable times taking into account the needs of passengers with connecting flights.

Which Wyoming communities participate in the Essential Air Service Program:

Currently, both Laramie and Worland are EAS markets served by Cheyenne based Great Lakes Airlines that receive federal subsidy through the program for flights operated.

Why do airfares in Wyoming seem so high when compared to Denver or Salt Lake City:

Airline pricing is driven primarily by supply and demand. Since most Wyoming communities are smaller, they lack competitive pressures such as places like Denver or Salt Lake City. Due to our smaller communities, we lack the ability for competitive, more affordable air services. Additionally, with smaller communities, air carriers take a bigger risk.

What are codeshare agreements: 

Codeshare agreements are marketing and operating agreements between two carriers, usually a legacy carrier and a smaller, regional partner, in which they coordinate flight schedules, frequent flyer programs, airport facility locations and pricing activities between each other. Codeshares allow larger carriers in hub airports have services to
 smaller communities they would not otherwise fly to and do it under their marketing brand identity. Codeshare arrangements typically allow for through-pricing through a hub to the larger carrier’s markets at a lower price than what would otherwise be available through a combination of local fares. Ticketing on codeshares is also handled, typically, by one carrier as to provide for a seamless transaction for the consumer.

What are the different types of marketing arrangements between the carriers:

There are typically three different agreements between air carriers; codeshares, fee for departure agreements or comprehensive marketing alliances. Codeshares, as described above, are generally “at risk” flying for the regional partner. This means that both the regional carrier as well as the legacy, dominant airline must each be responsible for their own flight profitability. In the case of a fee-for-departure arrangement, usually the dominant carrier pays the regional carrier to fly to certain cities because it can do so more affordably than it can on its own. In this sort of an arrangement, the larger carrier takes the risk of generating sufficient revenue to cover the costs associated with the arrangement it has with its regional affiliate. In the last case, carriers such as Northwest Airlines and KLM/Air France have entered into partnerships that include collective pricing, reciprocal frequent-flyer partnerships, shared airport lounges, ground handling agreements and even shared revenue risks associated with certain types of flying arrangements. These agreements are usually much more sophisticated and more complex in nature, but ultimately offer the most in consumer benefits.

How safe is flying and are there any differences between larger jets and smaller turbo-prop planes:

The most dangerous part of air travel is quite literally getting to the airport safely. People are much more likely to be involved in an accident falling out of bed, being stung by a bee or walking their dog then they are flying. All aircraft that fly the skies of Wyoming are under the same Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) programs for maintenance and safety. Other than passenger amenities and speed, there are generally no differences in aircraft used for commercial air transportation.

What are the benefits of Air Service to Wyoming: 

Air service brings about many positive aspects to Wyoming. Our diverse geography requires, and our air services enable, the quick and efficient transportation of passengers and goods from across the state with direct links into the national transportation network. In addition to the transportation of passengers and cargo services, aviation in Wyoming directly or indirectly adds 22,703 jobs within the state on an annual basis, according to the Wyoming Aeronautics Division 2004 Economic Impact Study.

How is the state government supporting Wyoming air service:

In 2004, the Wyoming State Legislature passed into law the Air Service Enhancement Program (ASEP). Under this program, the Wyoming Aeronautics Commission is granted $1.5 million on an annual basis to be used in support of air service initiatives. These initiatives require a community match and include such things as facility enhancements, incentives directly to the airlines, marketing funds used to advertise air services, or to attract new air carriers to the state. So far, 4 new routes have been added producing 270 daily seats to new hubs in Minneapolis, Chicago and Salt Lake City.
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