We're not sure what to make of Rep. Rick Berg's recent views on the Essential Air Service program.
"I support it. We need to encourage air service. If we're going to grow jobs here in North Dakota and grow jobs in?Jamestown, we need that connection," Berg told an audience recently at a town hall meeting in?Jamestown, where the Jamestown Regional Airport received more than $1.9 million last year to subsidize air travel to and from Minneapolis.
But Berg also admitted to the group that he voted for the Federal Aviation Administration bill in the House of Representatives, which would eliminate EAS contracts. The bill would phase out all EAS funding by 2013. Berg said he voted for the bill so he could join an EAS working group that would further evaluate the EAS.
If the federal EAS funding was eliminated Delta would discontinue its air service in and out of Jamestown. In fact, the airline has already announced plans to leave the city, but unless a replacement is found through bids to the U.S. Department of Transportation, Delta will have to stay in Jamestown.
No problem, according to Berg, who said he believes the long term goal should be to have two airlines competing for passengers in?Jamestown, where airline passenger boardings have risen from 3,339 in 2009 to 5,106 in 2011.
"That's going to drive down the cost of tickets. How do we get to that point from this point? Essential Air Service is part of that component," Berg said.
Now we're really confused. Let's review:
Berg supports the EAS and believes the EAS is part of the solution to make sure cities like Jamestown have reliable, affordable air service.
Berg voted for a bill in the House of Representatives that would eliminate EAS?funding by 2013.
Maybe we're missing something.
We can only hope Berg's positions on other issues vital to North Dakota are a little more clear as he continues his campaign to become the state's next senator.