February 9, 2012
By Sarah Brown
With concern rising over Cincinnati’s intent to close Blue Ash Airport later this year, AOPA is calling on area pilots to take their protest directly to Mayor Mark Mallory.
AOPA is urging the aviation community to voice opposition to the planned closure, which goes against assurances city officials had given the association just one year ago that the airport would continue to operate. The city is not legally obligated to keep it open, but Blue Ash serves a valuable role as a general aviation reliever airport in the Cincinnati area—and the city’s reported plan to cash in on the sale of the airport to fund a new streetcar system violates regulations on airport revenue use.
“AOPA and the aviation community are frustrated by Cincinnati’s lack of progress and willingness in meeting commitments made to general aviation,” said AOPA Vice President of Airport Advocacy Bill Dunn, who has met with City of Blue Ash and Cincinnati officials many times to urge them to fulfill their commitment to the airport community. Dunn cautioned Mallory against closing the airport in December, citing repeated assurances over the last five years that the city was committed to reconfiguring the airport for continued use.
The planned reconfiguration stemmed from the sale, years ago, of about half of the airport to the city of Blue Ash, where the airport is physically located. The sold property would be used for Blue Ash community service facilities, while the remainder would be reconfigured to allow for its continued operation. But news reports in late 2011 indicated that Cincinnati planned to sell the property in August 2012 and use the revenue for other purposes.
The FAA has informed the city of Cincinnati, and AOPA reiterated, that all proceeds from the sale of the property must be used for aviation purposes—so selling the airport would not cover a revenue gap for other city projects.
In addition to its role as a reliever airport, Blue Ash Airport provides jobs to area residents and contributes to the local economy. Still, no legal protections can force the city to honor its earlier commitments to keep it open and operating. The last hope for continued operation lies with a change of heart in the city of Cincinnati; residents can contact Mallory by email or by phone at 513/352-3250.
A tax incentive long used to stimulate investment in equipment, including aircraft, awaits the president’s signature.
Members of New Hampshire’s airports community exchanged ideas on how to secure dependable funding at the annual meeting of the Granite State Airport Management Association.
Congress has passed an omnibus spending bill that keeps the FAA, and other government agencies, funded through September 2015.
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