USA Today Continues Airport Funding Coverage

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Public-use, privately owned reliever airports have again won the negative attention of USA Today, this time with two articles -- one titled, "FAA and taxpayers prop up small, little-used airports." USA Today writer Thomas Frank's two articles appeared in USA Today on Dec. 31, stating among other things that some small airports are owned by "businesses," and that "raises questions about whether public funds should go toward assisting private enterprise." Like a similar article printed in USA Today back in September of 2009 these latest two have drawn reaction from AOPA. The pilot group wrote Friday that the latest articles cast reliever airports as "playgrounds for the rich," when they actually "support business aviation, medical services, and disaster relief." AOPA noted that it had provided a statement to the reporter prior to the story's inclusion in the paper, "but the newspaper chose not to include it."

AOPA's position is that reliever airports "comprise a valuable component of the national aviation system." The airports provide "access to small communities" and connect "all parts of the nation." According to AOPA, of 3,400 existing and proposed airports, 269 are considered relievers and of those 43 are privately owned. Those 43 are subject to the same grant obligations as any other airport that receives federal money.