Mar. 18, 2004 - AOPA President Phil Boyer and Northwest Airlines Chief Executive Officer Richard Anderson will meet in two weeks to discuss an editorial Anderson recently published for his airline's in-flight magazine, charging that airline passengers subsidize general aviation operations through fees and taxes on airline tickets.
"Mr. Anderson's editorial contains numerous misleading or seriously flawed statements about GA's financial contributions to the national air transportation system," said Boyer. "It has angered GA pilots and aviation enthusiasts. But AOPA has deliberately withheld its rebuttal to the editorial, working instead for constructive discussions with Northwest."
Since first learning of the editorial, AOPA has focused on setting up a meeting between Boyer and Anderson in order to clear the air. AOPA refrained from calling for a public letter-writing campaign while efforts to set up the meeting were under way. Pilots and aviation enthusiasts wrote anyway. They spontaneously began besieging Northwest Airlines with letters and e-mails protesting the tone and the misstatements in the editorial.
Anderson has now agreed to a meeting on April 2 to explain his concerns.
"That's fine," replied Boyer, "I plan to discuss our concerns and find some common ground in our respective views."
This all stems from a dispute between Northwest and the airport authority at Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport (MSP). The Metropolitan Airport Commission also runs six reliever airports that improve efficiency for Northwest at MSP by moving most GA traffic elsewhere, and uses some of the funds collected at MSP for improvements at the relievers.
"Mr. Anderson's attack on general aviation is unfair, unwarranted, and, for the most part, untrue," said Boyer. "And by publishing his attack in so public a forum, he has raised what should have remained a regional skirmish into a nationwide battle.
"I hope that by speaking directly with him, AOPA will be able to convince Mr. Anderson that GA and the airlines are two sides of the same coin and that he should just as publicly set the record straight."