AOPA is acting quickly to squelch any attempts to sell six publicly owned general aviation airports around Minnesota's twin cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul. The Metropolitan Airport Commission (MAC) is considering selling the airports to cover operating deficits at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP). In letters to MAC and Minnesota's newly elected governor, AOPA argued that MAC's six GA airports must remain open to the public without unreasonable increases in rates and charges.
AOPA President Phil Boyer also took the opportunity to explain to Governor-elect Tim Pawlenty the critical role general aviation plays in the nation's economy. He invited Pawlenty to visit AOPA's new Web site explaining GA.
On the six Minnesota GA airports (LVN—Airlake, ANE—Anoka Blaine, MIC—Crystal, FCM—Flying Cloud, 21D—Lake Elmo, and STP—St. Paul Downtown), AOPA noted that they served more than 1,900 based aircraft and had some 822,000 operations a year.
"These airports are a vital part of the national air transportation system," said Andy Cebula, AOPA senior vice president of government and technical affairs. "The loss of any of these airports would have a significant impact on the entire Minneapolis airport system and would contribute significantly to delays at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport."
AOPA President Boyer told Governor-elect Pawlenty that the MAC was under pressure from the airline industry to reduce spending at the GA airports to make up for ailing airline profits and operating deficits.
The airlines, according to Boyer, view traffic at the GA airports as "competition," but that was far from the truth.
"The majority of the air traffic at these airports are private individuals who operate aircraft for their own personal business or pleasure, or corporations that own or lease aircraft for their executive travel," Boyer told Pawlenty. "AOPA urges you to not allow the interests of the commercial air service providers to disrupt the safe operation of these general aviation airports."
Boyer also called on Pawlenty to make sure his future appointments to the Metropolitan Airport Commission be individuals "familiar with the general aviation community and not simply a representative of the airlines."