While the increasing number of (non-carbon-emitting) bicycles on the street is a positive consequence of high gas prices (aside from the occasional confrontation between aggressive bikers and motorists), high fuel prices have begun having a negative impact on some communities as airlines begin drastic cuts in scheduled flights to smaller markets. NPR reports that small airports such as Monterey, California, Butte, Montana and Ft. Lauderdale, Florida are beginning to see airlines cancel numerous flights and even discontinue service altogether.
Some lawmakers are responding to these cuts in service by suggesting increasing government subsidies for these flights, through the preexisting federal “Essential Air Service” program. Proponents argue that subsidies are necessary to keep smaller and more remote communities afloat and that arguments against the subsidies are "elitist" and are geared against small-town America.
While it is unfortunate that it may no longer be economical to have frequent flights to smaller airports, I think that arguing to subsidize the airline industry in this way is incredibly misguided. As fuel becomes more expensive, subsidies would only prolong the inevitable. Investing in expensive and inefficient airline routes is contrary to the direction the market is moving and would undermine funds that could more appropriately used to bolster public transportation systems and enhance the nation’s infrastructure to better accommodate cyclists (which is clearly the direction that the market is moving).