AOPA is pointing out to local officials the dangers of sacrificing long-term revenue for quick cash. The city council in Festus, Missouri, is considering closing and selling Festus Memorial Airport. Not only is it an important gateway to the world, it's the only public-use airport in Jefferson County. In a letter ( download) to the mayor, AOPA opposed the closure of the airport and pointed out that there are unexplored alternatives to the closure, such as an operational partnership between the city and county. For the past several years, a group of dedicated volunteers, Citizens for Airport Economic Expansion, has handled airport operations. In collaboration with the Missouri Department of Transportation, a study was conducted to identify how the airport could provide additional value to the community. The findings have not yet been implemented. According to FAA records, nearly two-thirds of the airport's annual operations are "itinerant," meaning visitors spend money in the town. This creates jobs and provides tax advantages along with immeasurable other benefits. AOPA has indicated its willingness to assist the city in pursuing options to prevent the outright closure of the airport.
March 16, 2007