NEW: Watertown at risk of losing subsidized air service

Watertown Regional Airport 500 X 270
WATERTOWN, S.D. (AP) – The federal Transportation Department says it will no longer subsidize Watertown airline flights through the Essential Air Service program.

Federal officials say the subsidy level in the city has surpassed $200 per passenger. Federal rules say any EAS community within 210 miles of a major hub airport must maintain a subsidy level below that mark, and the Transportation Department says Watertown is 207 miles from the Minneapolis airport.

Watertown Mayor Steve Thorson maintains the center of the city of 22,000 people is actually 4 miles farther west than under the government’s measurement. That would put it outside the 210-mile limit. He says the city will seek a waiver.

If it isn’t granted, subsidized flights to Pierre and Denver could stop by the end of the year. Those flights started August 15th under the Great Lakes Jet Express banner.

  • Paul Endres

    Highway 7 is 205 and 212 is 225 so they are accurate, or maybe equip me with a car and I will drive it to be more accurate.. Lol

    • Sara

      They also could be measuring as the crow flies, not along a road.