Northwest Continues Crusade For GA User Fees

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Or Maybe Close Some Airports...

Northwest Airlines is suggesting one or two Minneapolis-area reliever airports could be closed or some 2,000 private aircraft owners could be charged to reduce the financial toll on airlines using Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP). The airline is the biggest customer of the Metropolitan Airports Commission (MAC), which runs MSP and six GA airports in the Twin Cities area. The MAC is currently subsidizing operations at the small airports (the subsidy varies between $1.3 million and $7.9 million, depending on who's calculating it) with revenues from MSP. Northwest, as MSP's biggest tenant, claims the subsidies indirectly affect its bottom line and at a MAC meeting last week, the airline said it wants the subsidies to end. Northwest suggested potential airport closures, stopping expansion projects and hefty fee increases for the 2,000 private aircraft owners on local airports as ways to establish alternate means for what it views as the current subsidization, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. (Possibly) affected airports include Anoka County/Blaine, Crystal, Flying Cloud, Airlake in Lakevill, Lake Elmo and St. Paul Downtown. At the hearing Northwest spokeswoman Kathleen Nelson acknowledged that the relievers do keep small planes out of MSP. But she said the private aircraft owners at the six smaller airports are getting a bargain on rates and it's time they covered their own costs.