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AOPA weighs in to keep Washington airport openAOPA weighs in to keep Washington airport open

AOPA weighs in to keep Washington airport open

The local chamber of commerce knows it's important. The FAA knows it's important. Local pilots know it's important. Now AOPA is trying to convince the authorities that run Anacortes Airport (74S) in Washington State that their airport is a vital link in the national transportation system.

The Port of Anacortes Commission, which operates the airport, wants voters to weigh in on the idea of selling the airport for residential development as part of February's ballot. The results of the advisory vote would not be binding.

But, as AOPA pointed out in a letter sent to commissioners on Friday, the airport is under federal grant obligations, and the FAA already has said unequivocally that it will oppose any move to close the field.

"Any ballot measure put forth contemplating airport closure, binding or not, in addition to being an unnecessary waste of scarce airport and taxpayer funds, conflicts directly with the contract the Port has with the federal government, wrote AOPA Vice President of Airports Bill Dunn.

The airport has the support of the local chamber of commerce, which released an official position statement saying it wants to see the airport remain open.

And talk of closing the airport, which follows on the heels of a $12 million offer from a Seattle developer to buy the property and replace it with as many as 400 houses, prompted the FAA to write a letter to the executive director of the Port of Anacortes stating its adamant opposition to closing grant-obligated airports such as Anacortes.

But some members of the port commission have taken exception to the FAA's letter, telling the Anacortes American that the FAA may be acting illegally by taking a position on a local matter.

Such suggestions are "ludicrous and absurd," Dunn wrote. "The FAA has been directed by the U.S. Congress and federal statute to protect the federal investment in airports that have received federal funding. Anacortes Airport clearly fits into this category."

Updated: October 11, 2005, 11:49 a.m. EDT

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