The city of Yakima, Washington, has served eviction notices to hangar tenants, the latest manifestation of a troubling trend that affects the general aviation community nationwide: demolition of hangars suitable for light aircraft with no replacements available.
Hangar tenants at Yakima Air Terminal/Mcallister Field have been notified of their eviction as of May 31, with 20 T-hangars scheduled for demolition under the city’s plan to redevelop the airport.
The loss of GA hangars at Yakima Air Terminal/Mcallister Field is the latest in a growing number of airports that are evicting pilots and demolishing hangars despite a national shortage. In 2022, 72 GA hangars and shades were demolished at Scottsdale Airport in Arizona. So far in 2023, in addition to Yakima, 51 hangars are under threat at Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport in Alabama, as are another 47 hangars at Northern Colorado Regional Airport. This represents about 190 aircraft owners at these four airports alone. Left unchecked, this trend could lead to a dangerous hollowing out of light GA hangar capacity in the United States.
In a March 10 letter to Yakima Mayor Janice Deccio, AOPA Northwest Mountain Regional Manager Brad Schuster communicated the concerns of AOPA and the tenants on the field and requested to delay demolition of the 20 hangars until the Airport Layout Plan-projected hangars are built and ready for occupancy.
“We recognize that the current demolition proposal aligns with the approved YKM master plan and that the master plan calls for development of as many as 126 new hangars over time,” Schuster wrote. “Unfortunately, none of that new hangar capacity exists right now and all of the existing hangar tenants would be forced to store their aircraft outside or at other airports.”
An ongoing nationwide hangar shortage, with some waitlists for hangars stretching several years, makes the solution of moving aircraft to another hangar in the local area a nearly impossible task. AOPA is aware of aircraft owners in other states facing similar situations, and encourages any member of the GA community to contact the AOPA Pilot Information Center at 800-872-2672 if you become aware of a situation where hangar tenants are being evicted before suitable shelter is available for their aircraft.
In an effort to apply the FAA-sanctioned "self-sustaining principle," airport sponsors increasingly attempt to operate their airports as a business. Unfortunately, airports seldom plan for replacement of some capital assets as a business would. For instance, as light GA hangars approach end of life, airports generally lack funds to provide suitable replacement hangar capacity to tenants evicted because of hangar condition or other airport development requirements—generally leaving evicted tenants with few local options.
Further, loss of hangar capacity nationwide will negatively affect the economic benefits that GA aviators currently bring to the airports they visit—decreasing purchases of services, parts, fuel, and GA aircraft.
AOPA will continue to find long-term solutions to the hangar shortage as we fight relentlessly to prevent displacement of GA hangar owners and tenants on local, state, and national levels.