The cities of Macon and Athens, Georgia are both less than a 90-minute drive from Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International airport. Despite this, the U.S. Department of Transportation subsidized 26 flights per week to and from each city at a clip of $464 per passenger for Macon and $135 for Athens. Passengers pay $39 each for a seat on the 50 minute flight. The payment are permitted under the federal government's Essential Air Service (EAS) program, which allows the Department of Transportation to subsidize otherwise unprofitable flights by carriers to and from rural communities far removed from any "hub" airports. The local newspaper reports that the Macon averaged 10 passengers a day, while Athens averaged 12 EAS subsidized flights.
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