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Cape fare: You're paying for it

January 06. 2013 6:03PM

Small airports receive federal subsidies to provide transportation infrastructure to rural areas of the country. Did you know that airlines that serve those airports also receive federal subsidies?

U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte does, and she thinks that is nuts. "With over $16 trillion in debt, it blows my mind that Washington is spending hundreds of millions on a national program that subsidizes plane tickets for a handful of passengers traveling short distances," she told this newspaper last week.

She has voted against the subsidy, which provides $2.35 million - as much as $46,536 per week - to Cape Air, the Cape Cod air carrier that serves "Island-markets with a focus on leisure travel," according to its own promotional materials.

Cape Air is not an airborne version of Greyhound. It serves recreational clients who island hop from Boston or New York to resort destinations along the East Coast. And you, as a federal taxpayer, subsidize every ticket those clients purchase.

Cape Air accounts for 60 percent of Lebanon Airport's revenue. "Without the subsidy, there would be no airline," Rick Dyment, director of Lebanon Airport, said. Well, then, there shouldn't be an airline. Subsidizing one is not an essential federal function.

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