Changes in Air Service Networks

Changes in Air Service Networks Have Reduced Service for Small Communities

Due to the pilot shortage and changes in the structure of U.S. airline networks following periods of schedule rationalization, it has often been the small communities that have seen the brunt of the service cuts. Since 2007, scheduled departures at small and non-hub airports have increased in only one state; small community air service in all other 49 states has declined in the last nine years.

Change in Scheduled Departures at Small- and Non-Hub Airports by State, 2007-2015



The effects of this reduction in service on small communities have been numerous:

  • With fewer seats, small community airports are facing higher fares as a result of limited capacity.
  • Fewer departures means fewer service options, more delays, and unreliable connections at major hubs.
  • Residents of many small communities often have no choice but to drive to nearby larger airports for affordable access to the global air transportation network.

The service that has been lost since 2007 is not guaranteed to return to small airports. Small communities are struggling to remain relevant and connected to tomorrow’s economy, and these structural changes in the airline industry threaten to damage the economic development that well-connected airports bring to the communities they serve.