November 22, 2005
Congress has finally provided some compensation for the three Washington, D.C.-area airports and the associated businesses most hurt by post-9/11 security restrictions.
The DC-3 airports - College Park, Potomac Airfield, and Washington Executive/Hyde Field, all in suburban Maryland - are the only general aviation airports that have remained essentially closed to transient traffic since 2001. Only recently were procedures finally established to allow non-based pilots to fly to these airports near the nation's capital - but only after going through a complex and inconvenient vetting procedure.
"While many general aviation facilities have suffered as result of 9/11, these airports had the most taken away by the ADIZ and the flight restricted zone (FRZ)," said Andy Cebula, AOPA senior vice president of government and technical affairs. "Thanks to the persistence of senators Barbara Mikulski and Paul Sarbanes, and Rep. Steny Hoyer, all of Maryland, there is finally some economic justice."
Rep. Hoyer said, "The failure in past years to provide funds left [these] small airports and airport-related services...dangling on the brink of financial ruin. Properly implemented by the Transportation Department, this measure is an important step toward making these airports whole. I intend to monitor very closely this vital program to ensure that Maryland's airports are treated fairly and equitably."
Commenting on her role in the issue, Sen. Mikulski said, "I fight every year for federal investments that help keep Marylanders on the move."
Said Sen. Sarbanes, "Through no fault of their own, the operations at these airports have been severely curtailed as a result of national security restrictions implemented since September 11, 2001. The economic hardships have been enormous and it is only fair that we provide some degree of relief for the financial losses incurred as a result of these restrictions."
The airport compensation was included in the Transportation, Treasury, Judiciary, and Housing and Urban Development 2006 spending bill approved by Congress late last Friday. It's intended to compensate FBOs and general aviation service providers for "direct and incremental financial losses incurred while such airports were closed to general aviation operations...solely due to the actions of the Federal government...." President Bush must still sign the funding bill.
November 22, 2005
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