Pilots step up to save Maine airport

October 14, 2008

Opponents of a Nov. 4 ballot referendum to close a small airport in Biddeford, Maine, have kicked-off an aggressive information campaign to help city voters better understand the airport’s importance. AOPA partnered with the Friends of Biddeford Airport (FOBA) to urge a “no” vote against a referendum asking Biddeford residents to spend at least $3 million to close Biddeford Municipal Airport.

“Given the current economy—and realizing the many other priorities the community faces—spending tax money to close the airport just doesn’t make good sense,” said Alan Lyscars, a FOBA member.

According to Lyscars, a television ad debuts this week, followed by a series of informational mailings to city voters, all emphasizing the value of the airport. With a common theme of “Keep Biddeford Flying,” the groups are also coordinating a yard sign campaign, a neighbor-to-neighbor effort, and newspaper ads as part of their citywide get-out-the-vote campaign.

“The goal is simple: To make sure everyone better understands how vital this airport is to the community,” Lyscars said. “We’re also excited to have AOPA involved. They know better than most the critical role small general aviation airports play in the bigger picture of our nation’s transportation system.”

Bill Dunn, AOPA vice president of local airport advocacy, said AOPA has a vested interest in lending support to its local members.

“We have 2,100 members across Maine and approximately 415,000 nationwide, all sharing a desire to keep small airports such as Biddeford Municipal in business,” Dunn said. “Educating others about the importance of the airport to their community is an essential part of our local advocacy efforts. Issues like this aren’t just local, they have national impacts.”

Dunn noted that the Maine Department of Transportation estimates the airport contributes more than $3.5 million each year to the local economy.

“In our conversation with the FAA, the agency has also made it clear that they are opposed to closing the airport, and they’ve told the city that as well,” said Dunn.