The cost associated with flying is one of the most significant concerns at AOPA. Airport rates and charges, such as landing fees, tiedown fees, and hangar rent, can vary depending on airport location.
An airport in financial difficulty is a serious problem and can lead to airport closure. Adequate rates and charges at the airport are usually a balance between an economically healthy airport and reasonable and justified fees paid by users. However, any increase in airport fees over what is reasonable or justifiable is cause for concern for airport users.
Rates and charges at an airport have always been a source for contention between airport management, FBOs, and airport users. Increases in hangar and tiedown rental rates, fuel flowage fees, or a new landing fee are bound to raise concerns. Some increases in rates and charges are justified and benefit the airport; others such as substantially erroneous airport surcharges do not, and, in some cases, may even be in violation of federal grant assurances and established FAA policy.
FAA Order 5190.6A, "Airport Compliance Requirements," says that at an airport that receives Federal Airport Improvement Program (AIP) funds, "the obligation of airport management to make an airport available for public use does not preclude the owner from recovering the cost of providing the facility through fair and reasonable fees, rentals or other user charges which will make the airport as self-sustaining as possible under the circumstances existing at the particular airport." Statutory authority for this is found in Title 49 US Code § 47107(a) (13).
Collecting additional information will be helpful in building a case against rates and charges. Talk to the airport sponsor to understand why rates and charges have to be increased and discuss the possibility of other options. Additional questions that need to be addressed are:
Normally, the FAA does not question the fairness of rates and charges unless complaints have been made alleging that specific practices are unfair or unreasonable. If users believe that the changes in rates and charges are contrary to the grant assurances and FAA's policy, contact the FAA regional airport district office, providing all supporting factual evidence, as prescribed in AOPA's Guide to FAA Airport Compliance.
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