The Rhode Island Airport Corp. (RIAC) has suspended a $20 daily “facility fee” at Block Island State Airport following complaints from pilots and AOPA. The fee, which applied to out-of-state aircraft weighing less than 5,000 pounds for peak season operations from May through October, was imposed last month without any public input.
But the fee was suspended Nov. 2, following a stakeholder meeting at which AOPA Airport Support Network volunteer Henry DuPont made a presentation demonstrating the negative impact the fee would have on the airport and the community. DuPont and others also mobilized area pilots to write to RIAC opposing the fee, and AOPA wrote a letter warning that the combination of landing and facility fees would have a chilling effect on airport activity, sending pilots to other airports with lower fees.
“Combined landing and facility fees of $35 with a recurring charge of $20 per calendar day on light, transient aircraft from May through October will discourage pilots from utilizing Block Island State Airport,” wrote Adam Williams, AOPA manager of airport policy. “Any anticipated benefit from the fees will be offset by the cost of collecting the fees and by the reduced volume of transient aircraft operations. As a result, the economic benefits currently experienced by the Block Island community will be greatly reduced.”
State Rep. Blake Filippi was among those who spoke at the meeting, criticizing the process by which the fees were set.
“We appreciate the support of the pilot community and Representative Filippi, as well as the responsiveness of RIAC, in getting this fee suspended,” said Williams. “Ultimately both the airport and the community will derive greater benefit from policies that attract more pilots to Block Island rather than driving them away. And we look forward to working with RIAC as they seek alternatives for supplementing airport revenues.”