With a November 4 ballot measure election that will determine the future of St. Petersburg's Albert Whitted Airport (SPG) looming, AOPA has an aggressive public relations campaign to save the airport under way.
In a targeted campaign, AOPA has begun airing 30-second commercial advertisements Tuesday, which will run through election day next Tuesday. The association has also produced and sent a number of mail pieces to voters detailing the cost of closing the airport, both in terms of job loss and forced repayment of FAA grant obligations, and the impact on local services provided by medevac and state police helicopter operations. The mailings also point out the possibility of high-rise condo development in place of the airport.
Earlier this year, developers successfully placed a measure on the ballot calling for closure of the airport converting half of the property to waterfront parkland.
AOPA has been providing support and coordination to local pilot groups actively engaged in the fight to keep Albert Whitted open. "This is an important issue to our members," said AOPA President Phil Boyer, who in October traveled to Florida to meet with local pilots in St. Petersburg. "While the election may be a local one, the outcome has national implications since SPG is an important part of our national transportation system," continued Boyer. "Never before have we seen a local developer agenda try to circumvent federal regulations by taking an airport closure proposal to voters," said Boyer.
AOPA Vice President of Airports Bill Dunn will be in St. Petersburg to meet with local pilots and the media on Monday, just before the election.