Airports support rural communities

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To the Editor;

While this global pandemic has already consumed many of our nation’s largest cities, as the recent Bangor Daily News OpEd “Coronavirus pandemic is exacerbating a rural access crisis” highlights, what has been overlooked is the profound and potentially irreversible effect of this crisis on rural communities around the nation.


In rural communities, transportation resources are limited. There are more than 5,000 public-use airports in towns across the country, yet the majority of airline traffic goes through 30 of them. In these and many other cases, general aviation is the only resource for connecting small towns and rural communities and businesses to the tools and services they need. 


In fact during this current pandemic, general aviation has helped to transport vitally needed supplies. In addition, our nation’s transportation network — including general aviation and our network of smaller, local airports and airstrips — is more important than ever to agriculture and our nation’s food supply.


These aircraft and airports make it possible for doctors to visit patients in rural areas, help communities to access emergency care, fight fires, conduct search and rescue and help in times of natural disaster. And, this industry supports critical jobs for our communities, supporting $247 billion per year and over 1.1 million American jobs.


In spite of all this, general aviation and our network of local airports are often overlooked as a vital part of our infrastructure, and now more than ever, for the sake of rural communities across our nation, we must support this vital industry and network and invest in its future.  


Niel Ritchie

senior advisor

Main Street Project

Northfield, Minnesota

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