Economically Distressed Areas (EAS/EDA Determinations) Special Rule

The FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 established a special rule for economically distressed communities permitting the Government's share of allowable projects costs to be increased from 90 percent to 95 percent. This special rule applies to airports receiving Essential Air Service (EAS) as of October 1 of each year and are located in an area that meets one or more of the criteria established in section 301(a) of the Public Works and Economic Development Act of 1965 (42 U.S.C. § 3161(a)), also known as Economically Distressed Areas (EDAs). The FAA makes this determination, known as the EAS/EDA Determination, annually and publishes a list of all qualifying locations below.

FAA EAS/EDA Determinations

How the FAA Makes EAS/EDA Determinations

For each fiscal year, the FAA makes determinations under
Title 49 U.S.C. § 47109(f), Special Rule for Economically Distressed Communities, which provides an exception to the 90 percent federal share for grants at smaller airports (i.e. other than Large and Medium Hub) that are both receiving Essential Air Service (EAS) and are located in Economically Distressed Areas (EDA). Airports that are granted an exemption qualify for an increased 95 percent federal share for Airport Improvement Program (AIP) grants.

Because federal share percentages affect how the agency plans AIP spending, determinations will only be made after the start of each fiscal year on October 1. Once the FAA determines that an airport qualifies for the increased federal share, it will maintain that status for the entire fiscal year, regardless of mid-year changes in Essential Air Service (EAS) or Economically Distressed Area (EDA) status.

Essential Air Service (EAS)

The EAS program is administered by the DOT. The DOT office administering the program provides the FAA annually with an official list of all EAS locations as of October 1 of each fiscal year.

Economically Distressed Areas (EDAs)

Based on the list of EAS locations, the FAA determines which of those locations are considered economically distressed communities based on the requirements established in Section 301(a) of the Public Works and Economic Development Act of 1965 (42 U.S.C. § 3161(a)).

EDAs are determined through a series of calculations, which include unemployment data obtained from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and per capita income data obtained from the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA). Because unemployment data is updated on a monthly rate and per capita income data is updated on an annual rate, it is possible that a community may change EDA status throughout the fiscal year. In order for an airport to be considered for the special rule outlined in Title 49 U.S.C. § 47109(f), the community in which the airport is located, must qualify using the latest data available at the time the calculations are made.

Last updated: Thursday, December 14, 2023