The Essential Air Service Program provides Federal subsidies to operate and maintain airports in rural areas that don't see enough passengers to fiscally keep it open.
The airport at Ely, Nevada is one example:
Federal statistics reviewed...Press show that in 2010, just 227 passengers flew out of Ely while the airline got $1.8 million in subsidies. The travelers paid $70 to $90 for a one-way ticket. The cost to taxpayers for each ticket: $4,107.