Commercial Aviation: Effects of Changes to the Essential Air Service Program, and Stakeholders Views on Benefits, Challenges, and Potential Reforms, Report to Congressional Addressees [open pdf - 2MB]
From the Highlights: "Congress established EAS [Essential Air Service] as part of the 1978 deregulation of the U.S. airline industry. Through the EAS program, DOT [Department of Transportation] provides subsidies to airlines to make service available to communities that airlines would otherwise not serve. Since 2010, several statutory changes have limited eligibility for EAS subsidies by, among other things, changing eligibility requirements. In spite of these changes, program costs have continued to rise, prompting questions about whether additional modifications should be made. A provision in the Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization Act of 2018 directed GAO [Government Accountability Office] to examine several aspects of the EAS program. This report discusses, among other objectives, (1) how federal laws enacted since 2010 have affected air service to communities funded through the program; and (2) challenges that communities and air carriers face with EAS, and options for reform."
Government Accountability Office: https://www.gao.gov/