November 2, 2009
Letters to the Editor
7950 Jones Branch Road
McLean, VA 22108-0605
To the Editor:
USA Today has done its readers a disservice by failing to present all the facts in reporter Tom Frank’s November 2 articles regarding aviation funding.
There’s no question that airlines play a vital role in the economy. But so does general aviation.
At no point in either article does USA Today explain how much more the FAA spends at airports with airline service than at general aviation airports. So here, from the FAA’s own spreadsheets, is the whole story.
In FY 2008, the FAA spent $3.47 billion on the Airport Improvement Program (AIP) with just over $3 billion of that going directly to airports. From those funds, $2.26 billion—65 percent—went to 398 airports with airline service. The remaining 1,121 airports—73 percent of those receiving funds—shared $782 million. That means each airline airport received, on average, $5.68 million to each general aviation airport’s $698,000.
It’s a complex issue that USA Today's readers are savvy enough to understand—if only they are given all the facts.
The airlines are crucial to the national transportation system. But they cannot fulfill every aviation need. General aviation does what the airlines can’t or won’t. And in the long run, pitting the public against general aviation only undermines our national transportation network.
Maybe USA Today’s next big story will be that billions of dollars are being spent on roads used by privately owned cars instead of on improving bus terminals.
Craig L. Fuller
AOPA President and CEO