AOPA continues to urge the town of Islip, New York, to rescind a revised landing fee schedule that the association contends is an attempt by the municipality to use prohibited economic disincentives to limit nighttime activity at Islip’s Long Island MacArthur Airport.
An exemption from the fees for locally based aircraft—terminated when the new rates took effect—should be reinstated, AOPA said in a letter to Islip’s commissioner of aviation and transportation.
Writing to the town on Dec. 17, Bill Dunn, AOPA’s vice president of airport advocacy, restated the association’s objections to the landing fee schedule that were first noted in September, when the rate schedule took effect.
Fees based on time of day could be viewed by the FAA as a violation of federal grant assurances. The landing-fee exemption for locally based aircraft recognized that the aircraft operators already pay a series of other airport fees and taxes, Dunn informed local officials in September.
As of Sept. 1, Islip bills based aircraft weighing up to 12,500 pounds maximum takeoff weight $2 per 1,000 pounds for landings between 6 a.m. and 11 p.m. The charge increases to $3 per 1,000 pounds between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. The revised fee schedule also contains rates for aircraft weighing up to 70,000 pounds, and for aircraft weighing more than 70,000 pounds, that increase for landings between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m.
In his December follow-up letter, Dunn requested that Robert J. Schaefer, Islip’s commissioner of aviation and transportation, provide details of "due diligence" cited by Schaefer in disputing that the charges were arbitrary in a Sept. 29 response to AOPA.
Dunn also noted that the FAA, in preliminary discussions, had expressed concerns about the fee schedule’s rate disparities.
Also, there was a "history" of past efforts by Islip to use economic disincentives to limit airport operations, Dunn wrote, pointing out that in 2001, in response to a complaint filed by AOPA, the FAA notified Islip that the town had jeopardized Islip-MacArthur’s grant eligibility with an effort, subsequently dropped, to impose an ordinance containing high fees for night departures.