U.S. Code of Federal Regulations
Regulations most recently checked for updates: Dec 04, 2020
This part establishes the guidelines required by 49 U.S.C. 41736 to be used by the Department in establishing the fair and reasonable amount of compensation needed to ensure the continuation of essential air service to an eligible place under 49 U.S.C. 41731 and 41734. These guidelines are intended to cover normal carrier selection cases and rate renewal cases, and not necessarily emergency carrier selection cases.
As used in this part:
Eligible place means a place in the United States that meets the specified criteria outlined in 49 U.S.C. Chapter 417.
Essential air service is that air transportation which the Department has found to be essential under Subchapter II of Chapter 417 of the Statute.
In establishing the subsidy for an air carrier providing essential air service at an eligible place, the Department will consider the following:
(a) The reasonable projected costs of a carrier in serving that place;
(b) The carrier's reasonable projected revenues for serving that place;
(c) The appropriate size of aircraft for providing essential air service at that place; and
(d) A reasonable profit for a carrier serving that place.
(a) The reasonable costs projected for a carrier providing essential air service at an eligible place will be evaluated:
(1) For costs attributable to the carrier's flying operations (direct expenses), by comparing the projected costs submitted by the carrier with the following:
(i) The carrier's historical direct operating costs with the same or similar aircraft types;
(ii) The direct operating unit costs of similar carriers using the same or similar equipment; and
(iii) Data supplied by the manufacturer of the carrier's aircraft.
(2) For other costs, by one or more of the following methods:
(i) By direct assignment where the indirect costs are attributable to the carrier's operations at the eligible place;
(ii) By comparing the carrier's systemwide indirect operating expenses to those submitted by the carrier for the eligible place; or
(iii) By comparing the indirect operating expenses submitted by the carrier with the ratio of indirect to direct costs that have been experienced by the carrier in other markets or to costs that are representative of the industry.
(3) By considering the unique circumstances of the carrier or the community being served that justify deviations from the costs that would otherwise be established for that carrier under this paragraph.
(4) By determining whether the aircraft to be used by the carrier at the eligible place, and on which its costs are derived, are appropriate for providing essential air service there. The appropriateness of the aircraft to be used is based on the following characteristics of the eligible place:
(i) Traffic levels;
(ii) The level of air service that the Department has decided is essential for the eligible place;
(iii) Distance to the designated hub;
(iv) The altitude at which the carrier must fly to the designated hub; and
(v) Other operational elements involved.
(b) When the essential air service would be made part of the carrier's linear system, the Department might, instead of the factors in paragraph (a) of this section, consider only the incremental costs that the carrier will incur in adding that service to its system.
(a) The projected passenger revenue for a carrier providing essential air service at an eligible place will be calculated by multiplying the following:
(1) A reasonable projected net fare, which is the standard fare expected to be charged for service between the eligible place and the designated hub less any dilution caused by joint fare arrangements, discount fares that it offers, or prorates of fares for through one-line passengers; and
(2) The traffic (including both local and beyond traffic) projected to flow between the eligible place and the designated hub or hubs, which is based on the carrier's own estimates, Department estimates, and on traffic levels in the market at issue when such data are available.
(b) The reasonableness of a carrier's passenger revenue projections will be evaluated by:
(1) Comparing the carrier's proposed fare with the fare charged in other city-pair markets of similar distances and traffic densities; and
(2) Comparing the carrier's proposed pricing structure with historical pricing practices in the market at issue, with the pricing practices of that carrier in other markets, and with any standard industry pricing guidelines that may be available.
(c) An estimate of freight and other transport-related revenue will be included as a component of projected revenues and will be based on recent experience in the market involved and on the experience of the carrier involved in other markets.
The reasonable return for a carrier for providing essential air service at an eligible place generally will be set at a flat percentage, typically 5 percent of that carrier's projected operating costs as established under § 271.4, plus any applicable interest expenses on flight equipment.
(a) Subsidy will be paid by the Department to the air carrier monthly, based on the subsidy rate established by the Department for the carrier under this part. Payments will not vary except as provided in this section.
(b) While a carrier's subsidy rate will not vary even if actual revenues or costs differ from projections, the actual amount of each payment may vary depending on the following factors:
(1) Seasonal characteristics of the carrier's operations at the eligible place;
(2) The actual number of flights completed, aircraft miles flown, available seat-miles flown, or variations in other operational elements upon which the subsidy rate is based; or
(3) Adjustments to the carrier's subsidy required by § 271.8(b).
(c) Payments will continue for the duration of the rate term established under § 271.8 provided that the carrier continues to provide the required service.
(a) The subsidy rate generally will be set for a 2-year period, or two consecutive 1-year periods. The Department may set the rate for a shorter period in the following situations:
(1) A commuter air carrier is replacing a larger certificated carrier at the eligible place;
(2) Traffic at the eligible place has substantially decreased;
(3) The Department considers the cost or revenue projections of the carrier for the second year to be unrealistic;
(4) It is likely that there will be changes in the eligible place essential air service level; or
(5) The uncertainties of the market or other circumstances warrant a shorter rate period.
(b) The subsidy rate established for a carrier under this part will not be changed during the rate period unless an adjustment is required in the public interest.
(c) At the end of the rate period, the carrier will not have a continuing right to receive subsidy for providing essential air service at the eligible place.
(a) All air carriers receiving subsidy under this part shall comply with the following:
(1) The Age Discrimination Act of 1975;
(2) The Civil Rights Act of 1964 and 49 CFR part 21; and
(3) The Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 49 CFR part 27, and part 382 of this chapter.
(b) Within 1 year after it first receives a subsidy under this part, the carrier shall evaluate its practices and procedures for accommodating the handicapped in accordance with § 382.23 of this chapter.
(c) All air carriers seeking a subsidy under this part shall include in their subsidy application the assurances required by 49 CFR parts 20, 21, 27 and 29, and § 382.21 of this chapter.