Jan. 29, 2004 - AOPA representatives met with general aviation pilots in the Panama City, Fla., area this week to determine their desires for the Panama City Airport. Pilots are evenly split over whether or not to close the current airport and relocate to another site 15 miles away. AOPA has told the airport authority that if it decides to relocate the airport, the new GA facilities must equal or surpass the current facilities, and they must be provided to tenants at no increase in cost.
AOPA Vice President of Airports Bill Dunn and Regional Representative Nelson Rhodes met this week with members of Friends of Panama City Airport to discuss the issue.
The Panama City Airport Authority has been studying such a move for more than two years, and Bay County commissioners have placed a measure on the ballot for March 9, 2004, asking voters to approve the new airport. The current airport has been penned in by encroaching development and no longer meets FAA safety standards for runway protection and obstacle free zones. The FAA, Fla. Governor Jeb Bush, the state Department of Transportation, and local business and government leaders all favor the new airport.
AOPA is analyzing information from the environmental impact study currently under way and will file formal comments once the draft document is released late this year or early next.
In the past, AOPA has supported construction of new airports where GA has been a significant beneficiary. These include French Valley, Calif., and a new airport in the Austin, Texas, area.