In response to objections from local pilots, AOPA, and the Alaska Airmen’s Association, the state’s Department of Transportation and Public Facilities has decided to scale back plans to raise land rental lease rates at rural airports.
In a March 31 letter to AOPA, Christine Klein, deputy commissioner of the Department of Transportation and Public Facilities, said that the department recognizes “the economic times and their impacts on rural aviation in Alaska” and instead will institute a “more modest implementation of rate increases.”
The next aviation-use increase will be four percent and will not take effect until January 2013, with future increases limited to four percent. A four-percent increase beginning January 2010 will apply only to auxiliary and nonaviation usage.
“[The department] heard the users and truly considered the comments regarding the economic impact that its proposed action would have had on the aviation users of these rural airports,” said Heidi Williams, AOPA senior director of airports. “We’re thrilled that the department has done the right thing.”
The department had planned last year to institute up to 50-percent increases at the 256 rural airports it owns. AOPA fought the proposal, arguing that the move would harm general aviation during the economic downturn, especially with fuel prices increasing, too. DOT&PF then decided to suspend any rate increases and to limit future increases to 10 percent, which AOPA also opposed.