USA Today and 'Today' show airport funding stories lack balance
A statement from AOPA President Craig Fuller
The September 17 article titled “Feds keep little-used airports in business” is a story completely devoid of journalistic balance that fails to acknowledge the millions of Americans who benefit from the nation's 5,200 general aviation airports every day.
The article cites statistics on airport spending but gives only part of the story. It completely ignores the fact that Congress regularly allocates far more for air carrier airports than for general aviation airports. For instance, in 2007, general aviation airports receiving money got an average of $750,000 for improvements while commercial air carrier airports that received funding got an average of $5.5 million each—more than seven times the amount awarded to smaller fields!
The story talks about the woes of commercial travel but fails to note that the thousands of flights made each day from small general aviation airports nationwide are actually relieving those problems. In fact, if our country’s general aviation airports were to close, those flights would be forced to operate out of our already overcrowded air carrier airports, increasing delays, slowing traffic, and extending security lines.
General aviation pilots and passengers fly for exactly the same reasons as commercial travelers—to conduct business, visit family and friends, and take vacations. But private pilots and airplanes also fly thousands of hours in volunteer efforts including medical transport, humanitarian relief, and search and rescue operations.
Having convenient access to small airports in communities around the country is as vital to our national transportation system as having highway off-ramps in small towns. To suggest that smaller airports are not needed is just like suggesting that we should have a road system that connects only the country’s 150 largest cities. The truth is that small airports do bring business, jobs, and services—including disaster relief, package delivery, firefighting capability, law enforcement, and emergency medical transportation—to thousands of communities nationwide every day. And that’s good for America.
September 17, 2009