Nebraska's U.S. senators are trying to persuade the Federal Aviation Administration to continue helping rural airports even if passenger numbers drop below the threshold for aid.
Mike Johanns and Ben Nelson have sent a letter asking the FAA to ease the rules on the aid program in 2009 because of the recession. Roughly $1 million in assistance is at stake.
Nelson says rural airports serve as economic engines for their communities.
Johanns says rural areas depend heavily on their airports to support their businesses and families.
Normally, the FAA requires airports to have at least 10,000 boardings a year to qualify for the aid program. The senators want the agency to consider easing that standard like it did after the 2001 terrorist attacks.