Governor-elect Tim Pawlenty
G56 Centennial Office Building
658 Cedar Street
St. Paul, MN 55155
Dear Governor-elect Pawlenty:
As President of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), the world's largest general aviation organization with over 389,000 members nationwide and 7,700 members in Minnesota, congratulations and best wishes on your recent gubernatorial victory!
I write today to encourage your cooperation in preserving general aviation interests in Minnesota, specifically in the Twin Cities area. The Metropolitan Airport Commission (MAC) has done an admirable job operating an airport system that not only includes Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, but, more importantly, includes the six general aviation airports of Airlake, Anoka Blaine, Crystal, Flying Cloud, Lake Elmo, and St. Paul Downtown. We want to preserve the future of this important airport system.
As you may know, the MAC is continually under pressure from the airline industry to reduce spending at these vital community airports in order to make up for ailing airline profits and operating deficits. The airlines view the air traffic at these neighboring airports as competition. Nothing could be further 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. AOPA urges you to not allow the interests of the commercial air service providers to disrupt the safe operation of these general aviation airports. Whatever cost-cutting measures the Metropolitan Airport Commission (MAC) decides are necessary should be accomplished fairly.
With more than 1,900 based aircraft and 822,000 annual operations, the general aviation airports operated by MAC are a vital part of the national air transportation system. The loss or deterioration of any one 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, as the demand for aircraft traffic will increase but available airport options will decrease.
Our members in Minnesota look to your leadership to guide and protect Minnesota's thriving aviation transportation system. When you consider any future appointments to the Metropolitan Airport Commission, please consider an individual familiar with the general aviation community and not simply a representative of the airlines. I offer any help that my office might be able to provide you or members of your staff. A brochure is enclosed that our association designed to show the critical role that general aviation plays in our nation's economy. The brochure also includes a CD-ROM that provides a tour of our new and informative Web site on the importance of general aviation.
Again, I offer my sincere congratulations to you. I look forward to working with you in the future.
December 11, 2002