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AOPA opposes legislation that could threaten Twin Cities reliever airportAOPA opposes legislation that could threaten Twin Cities reliever airport

AOPA opposes legislation that could threaten Twin Cities reliever airport

Crystal Airport

Some officials in Hennepin County, Minnesota, just can't take a hint. They've been told several times that Crystal Airport - a vital, thriving reliever airport in the Twin Cities area - is staying open. Yet they are trying once again to close it even though the airport is owned by the Metropolitan Airports Commission (MAC) and not Hennepin County or the city of Crystal.

This time, representatives from the area have introduced bills into the Minnesota House and Senate that would direct the Metropolitan Council to submit a report to the legislature on the economic analysis of Crystal Airport and possible alternative uses of the property.

"We are disappointed that there continue to be efforts by some to close this important and vital general aviation airport," AOPA Vice President of Airports Bill Dunn wrote in letters to both branches of the legislature. "These bills are duplicative of studies and work already completed by the MAC and other local government agencies."

In 2006, the Reliever Airports Task Force of the MAC released an economic analysis of GA reliever airports in that area, including Crystal Airport.

The MAC commissioners recommended that all six reliever airports, including Crystal, "remain in their existing locations and that each be developed to meet its specific purpose."

At the end of 2004 during a Senate hearing on the future of Crystal Airport, Sen. Ann Rest, chairwoman of the Senate aviation subcommittee, said the aviation community made "a very strong case" for Crystal Airport's value to the Twin Cities. She then closed the hearings and indicated that no further action was necessary.

What's more, the MAC has accepted FAA Airport Improvement Program grants for development projects at the airport. And that means the MAC must operate Crystal as an airport for 20 years from the date of the last grant.

"AOPA is strongly opposed to unnecessarily revisiting this issue. A second economic analysis would be redundant," Dunn said. "Plus, it is futile to study alternative uses for airport property that is required by federal law to continue to operate as an airport."

April 13, 2006

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