AOPA urges Alaska not to raise rural airport lease rates

November 4, 2008

A tough economy and uniquely high fuel prices mean pilots at rural airports cannot afford proposed lease rate increases, AOPA told Alaska aviation officials.

In an Oct. 31 letter, AOPA noted that plans to raise rural lease rates by 10 percent per year until market rates are reached could cripple aviation in the current economic climate. The letter also pointed out that pilots at rural Alaska airports aren’t benefitting from the falling fuel prices seen in most of the country. That’s because fuel costs are tied to deliveries, which occur only during the summer when fuel can be shipped in on barges. As a result, AOPA is urging state officials to hold lease rates steady in the coming year.

In May, AOPA filed comments opposing lease rate increases of as much as 50 percent at rural airports. While an emergency regulation repealed those increases, the newest proposal would set the cap for rate hikes at 10 percent per year. But even that may be too much under current economic conditions and could force many businesses to close, AOPA warned.