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Action News investigates essential air service

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Updated: 5/16/2013 6:36 pm
JACKSONVILLE, Fla -- Action News found tax dollars are helping fly nearly empty flights to small airports around the country.

A federal program called essential air service uses tax dollars to help keep airfare to select smaller airports low.

The program pays $200 million dollars a year to subsidize passenger tickets to 118 airports around the country.  It can help keep those airports operating, as well.

Those are your tax dollars to help passengers fly to places like Great Bend, Kansas, and Altoona, Pennsylvania.

Action News' Scott Macfarlane took a flight from Washington, D.C. to Staunton, Virginia.  He paid $100.  Taxpayers subsidized $133.

The flight was so empty, passengers had to move to the back of the plane to help distribute the weight on the flight.

MacFarlane then took a second flight from Staunton to Beckley, West Virginia.  Taxpayers spent $500 to subsidize that ticket.

The flight had just one other passenger on it.

The regional airline industry did not want to comment on this story.
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