Alaska repeals rural lease rate increase

June 19, 2008

Hard on the heels of a decision not to increase lease rates at Alaska’s international airports, the state has issued an emergency rule suspending a lease rate increase at rural airports through the end of the year.

AOPA and other aviation groups had asked the state to re-evaluate the increases, which took effect in March, on the grounds that the sudden increase in lease rates combined with rising fuel and energy costs would make aviation more expensive for Alaska pilots, and could damage the state’s vital aviation industry.

In announcing the suspension on June 17, the state Department of Transportation and Public Facilities said it will hold public hearings in the coming months to discuss lease rates and establish appropriate levels. In the meantime, lease rates will return to their pre-increase levels.

Deputy Commissioner Christine Klein, who supported suspending the lease rate increase, noted that problems in the aviation industry caused by high energy costs have a particularly serious impact in Alaska, where aircraft are sometimes the only way to reach communities with food, health care, and other services.

“Aviation in Alaska is critical to our economy and public welfare. This moratorium gives time to consider options for increases folks can live with, amend the regulations if needed, and provides everyone breathing room to get through the next few busy summer months,” said Klein.