U.S. Taxpayers Fund Empty 'Airports to Nowhere'

The federal government provides a subsidy for every flight into the Murtha Airport of about $100 dollars per passenger but, even with the subsidy, there are plenty of empty seats.

Still, that hasn't compelled lawmakers to curb funding for the facility. Out of the $787 billion stimulus funds awarded earlier this year, the Murtha airport picked up $800,000. And, on Thursday, the Senate rejected a measure that would have ended $1.4 million in annual subsidies for the airport.

Manager Says Murtha Airport Provides Jobs

On a recent visit to the airport, ABC News found it virtually deserted, with an empty restaurant, vacant lounges and quiet runways. An air traffic controller was twiddling his thumbs.

Thanks to Murtha, there is a Pennsylvania National Guard training facility located at the airport, but its personnel fly helicopters, not airplanes.

Murtha Airport manager Scott Voekler said the airport provides an important service to the economically devastated Johnstown, Pa., area.

"It is tremendously important because when you bring companies in, you bring jobs," Voekler said.

Murtha is the person to thank for the "modern, state-of-the-art airport," he said.

"All the major construction projects at the airport are directly from Mr. Murtha," Voekler said. "He has been a great sponsor of the airport and is trying to bring business in. ... You have to have infrastructure to bring businesses in."

Those who use the airport are grateful to have it.

"This is not an airport for nobody," Johnstown resident Gil Weakland said after arriving on a flight from Washington. "We have industries here, we have businesses here and we have people who travel out of here.

"John Murtha is a good man," Weakland added. "You got to look at earmarks for what they are. What would communities like this do without a conscientious congressman?"

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