New Mexico proposes to close second airport in two years

March 27, 2008

New Mexico proposes to close second airport in two years

By AOPA ePublishing staff

The New Mexico Department of Transportation wants to close Tatum Airport in Tatum, N.M., by March 31. This would be the second state-owned airport closure in two years, but AOPA is calling on the FAA to prevent that from happening.

“Given that the state of New Mexico currently serves as the sponsor of three general aviation facilities, AOPA is alarmed by what appears to be a pattern of inattention by the airport sponsor leading to closure requests,” wrote Heidi Williams, AOPA senior director of airports, in a letter to the FAA.

In May 2006, the state closed Eunice Airport in Lea County because of inadequately maintained facilities. Tatum is located in the same county, and the state is using the same claim to close it.

The public-use airport is in the National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems and has received federal Airport Improvement Program (AIP) funding. Because of the federal funding, the state is obligated to keep the airport open and in a safe and serviceable condition, AOPA reminded the FAA.

“We strongly encourage the FAA to hold the state of New Mexico to its obligations under the AIP,” Williams wrote, “and to deny the state’s request to close the airport.”

March 27, 2008