AOPA asks Alaska to study impact of airport lease hikes

May 29, 2008

A plan to raise lease rates by more than 50 percent could affect pilots based at Fairbanks and Anchorage airports this summer.

AOPA has asked Alaska state officials to study the economic impact of the increase before moving forward and to reconsider a similar step taken earlier this year at rural airports.

“With aviation fuel prices on the rise, along with the cost of other forms of energy at record levels, businesses and individuals who hold leases are already under economic stress,” wrote Tom George, AOPA regional representative for Alaska, in a May 27 letter to Keith Day, controller for the state’s international airport system. “The cumulative impact of these factors could have a negative impact on the aviation community and the public that depends on it as a basic form of transportation across much of the state.”

The huge price hike is possible because of a regulation that allows increases in lease rates of up to 10 percent per year, compounded for each year since the last increase. Because it has been about five years since the last increase, leaseholders could see a more than 50-percent rate hike this year, with additional 10-percent increases each year going forward. AOPA is asking state officials to revise that rule to prevent such enormous rate hikes in the future.