The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association has warned the southern California city of Oceanside that it will oppose any efforts to close Oceanside Municipal Airport.
"The airport and the services it provides are vital," wrote Bill Dunn, AOPA vice president of regional affairs, in a letter to Oceanside mayor Terry Johnson. "Not only does the airport serve the local area, it is an integral part of a statewide and national transportation system."
Mayor Johnson and some city officials are reportedly considering closing the airport and using the property for other money-making operations.
AOPA reminded the city that the airport has a community and regional economic impact that far exceeds the direct revenue it generates for the city.
"The airport creates jobs in the community," said Dunn. "Airport tenants also pay personal property and possessory interest taxes that help support local schools." Dunn noted that general aviation provides $5.5 billion to California's economy.
AOPA also reminded city officials that they had accepted more than $1.1 million in Airport Improvement Program (AIP) funds from the federal government. In exchange for these taxpayer dollars, the city agreed to operate the airport until 2016.
"AOPA will vigorously oppose any initiative designed to close Oceanside Municipal Airport," Dunn told the mayor. "We would hope that you and the council will look upon the airport as the true asset it is and establish a vision for what it may be in order to maximize the positive impact accrued to the city and its residents."
The 370,000-member Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association is the world's largest civil aviation organization. More than one half of the nation's pilots are AOPA members, as are more than 47,000 California pilots.