Update: Apr. 7, 2004 - AOPA President Phil Boyer and Northwest Airlines CEO Richard Anderson met for 90 minutes Friday afternoon for a cordial, but frank, discussion of their differences over general aviation. Those differences had been highlighted by a strongly anti-general aviation editorial Anderson wrote for Northwest's in-flight magazine. Immediately after the editorial was published, AOPA prepared a line-by-line rebuttal of the editorial.
"Mr. Anderson's editorial clearly states his views on the subject of GA," said Boyer. "But we want people to understand that they are just that - his views. We object to almost every point he made. General aviation pays its fair share of the cost to maintain airports and the air traffic control system. Airlines place a much higher demand on the system and pay a proportionately higher percentage, which they pass on to their customers."
The meeting also touched on a number of issues specific to Northwest's home airport, Minneapolis-St. Paul International (MSP).
MSP is owned and operated by the Metropolitan Airport Commission (MAC). The MAC also owns and operates six general aviation reliever airports in the Twin Cities area. Some of the funds raised at MSP are used to support the reliever airports. Northwest Airlines has demanded that the MAC keep all MSP funds at MSP.
"AOPA believes that would be a false economy," Boyer said before the meeting. "It is in Northwest's interest to have a strong reliever system in the Twin Cities so that general aviation aircraft have somewhere besides MSP to land, easing congestion and delays at a busy air carrier airport.