The FAA has denied a petition from the Sarasota-Manatee (Florida) Airport Authority that would have allowed it to use airport revenues to subsidize a commercial airline. AOPA had opposed the petition, arguing that fees and charges collected from airport users, including general aviation pilots, should be used exclusively for airport improvements benefiting all users.
"The FAA made the right decision," said Andy Cebula, AOPA senior vice president of Government and Technical Affairs. "Changing federal policy to allow this kind of subsidy to a commercial airline had the potential to choke off funds for airport improvements and to harm general aviation."
AOPA had argued that granting the petition would have allowed virtually every public-use airport with airline service and general aviation operations to divert airport revenue funds. GA pilots would have been discriminated against, as money generated from airport fees, charges, and leases could have gone into the pockets of the airlines.
The FAA agreed. In denying the petition, the agency wrote, "The requirement to use airport revenue for airport purposes is absolute; once a federally obligated airport receives a dollar of airport revenue, that dollar must be used for the purposes listed in 49 U.S.C. 47107(b) and 47133 - effectively the capital and operating costs of the airport.... Congress has repeatedly asserted its interest in the strict interpretation and enforcement of the use of airport revenue for purposes which are clearly capital and operating costs of the airport."
October 19, 2004