May 1, 2012
By Dan Namowitz
Cutting costs should take precedence over fee hikes when dealing with budget shortfalls in difficult economic times—and pilots at Minneapolis-area airports can make that point to Minnesota’s Metropolitan Airport Commission (MAC) in a public hearing May 7.
MAC, the operator of Minneapolis-St. Paul International and six general aviation airports, says it faces a $2 million shortfall in its GA accounts. Officials have proposed extending landing fees for turbine aircraft to two additional airports in its system, Flying Cloud and Anoka County-Blaine airports. The commission currently charges landings fees at St. Paul Downtown Airport.
Fees for jet A fuel flowage would also come in for modification and increase under proposals to be the subject of the hearing.
AOPA expressed concern in a letter to MAC Executive Director Jeff Hamiel that the cost-increase proposals under consideration appear to be driven primarily by an airline lease that constrains how MAC can invest in its GA airports.
Lease terms prevent MAC from investing more than $300,000 derived from primary-airport revenue in the system’s reliever airports, AOPA noted.
“I can assure you that airlines would suffer much more in financial costs if even a small portion of operations from the reliever airports came to Minneapolis-St. Paul—which they can do if they so choose,” wrote Bill Dunn, AOPA vice president of airport advocacy. “Nor do we believe it’s appropriate for an airline to dictate to MAC how it funds the total airport system including MSP and the relievers.”
Dunn urged members to attend the hearing and insist on fairness in the local airport system’s financial management.
“In this economy, fee increases and additions can mount quickly,” he said. “Members have the opportunity to tell MAC how they feel about the proposed rates and charges.”
The May 7 public hearing will begin at 7 p.m. in the Lindbergh Conference Room of MAC’s General Office Building at 6040 28th Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55450. Copies of the draft ordinance and supporting documentation may be obtained online or by contacting Kelly Ubel at 612/467-0522.
Written comments will be accepted at the public hearing or until 4 p.m. May 11 by mail to Attn: Reliever Airports Department, Metropolitan Airports Commission, General Office, 6040 28th Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55450-2799, 612/467-0522.
Dan Namowitz is an aviation writer and flight instructor.
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