FAA prepares to release Rialto's airport property

August 21, 2008

After exhausting options to keep California’s Rialto Municipal/Miro Field open, the FAA is considering the phased release of part of the airport’s land, paving the way for its closure.

The FAA was forced to release the land after Congress passed an amendment to the Federal Highway Administration bill known as the “Safe, Accountable, Flexible, and Efficient Transportation Equity Act” that demanded the airport’s closure.

“The complete and total loss of this FAA funded designated reliever airport—the closest reliever airport to Ontario International Airport—is a travesty orchestrated under color of an exemption to FAA policy and existing federal law by some in Congress who succumbed to pressure from a greedy city government airport sponsor,” wrote AOPA Vice President of Local Airport Advocacy Bill Dunn in formal comments to the FAA regarding the release airport property.

For years, AOPA has fought to protect the airport, which recently had been used for drag racing and nonaviation business. The association also opposed the amendment to the highway bill that directed the FAA to allow the airport to be closed.

AOPA has requested that the FAA release the land in a phased approach so that the airport can continue to operate for as long as possible. In addition, AOPA asked that aircraft owners and aviation businesses that are forced to relocate to another airport be compensated for the move.

“The action taken against Rialto underscores the need for strong efforts by AOPA and the pilot community to prevent this from spreading,” Dunn said.