Landing Fee Targets Business Jets

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Palm Beach County commissioners have determined that the best way to boost tourism in the tiny community of West Palm Beach is to charge landing fees on the numerous private aircraft that use the local airport. The attitude of the commissioners is illustrated by the comment of one that the as-yet-undetermined fee “shouldn't be much more than the price of a bottle of champagne,” according to South Florida Sun-Sentinel. But what may be more puzzling is that the board won’t be plowing the money into tourism promotion or marketing to entice the uninitiated to its genteel environs. They’ll be giving it to the airlines that serve the airport.

Airlines already pay landing fees and the thinking among commissioners is that if general aviation fees are used to reduce the charges against the airlines they’ll pass the savings along to their customers. "Palm Beach County needs tourism," said Commissioner Burt Aaronson, who supported the fee proposal. "If we can bring more planes and lower rates for commercial carriers, we can become more competitive." Commissioner Bob Kanjian, a pilot, voted against the measure, saying it would net airlines about 17 cents per passenger.