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USA Today Spotlight On GA Funding Ignites GA Reaction

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An article published Thursday by USA Today notes that Congress has directed billions to general aviation airports, "which typically are tucked on country roads and industrial byways," usually operate flights on the order of "just a few each hour" and which "the lawmakers also regularly use in their travels," ... "sometimes in planes with lobbyists." It goes on to state that "lawmakers have expanded annual funding by 10 times since 1982," rewriting federal law to re-route funds to the airports, of which "nearly 90% operate at less than one-third of their capacity." And all that is funded by taxes paid "mostly by the nation's airline passengers," who are flying out of larger airports working much closer to their full capacity that are in need of expensive upgrades to their infrastructure. AOPA shot off a response calling the article "a slanted, one-sided front-page story," slanted to favor airlines by brewing "negative sentiment" that "perpetuate public misconceptions about GA." NBAA also chimed in, calling the article "biased" and "distorted" and followed up with a letter to the editor that called the airports "vital" and "lifelines" for towns with little or no airline service. Of course, there were more comments ... from EAA (which pointed out the contributions of aviation fuel taxes), from GAMA (which noted the economic engines driven by airport services and traffic) and NATA (which pointed out the $150 billion contributed annually to the U.S. economy by the general aviation industry). AOPA even added a little fact-checking ... .

According to AOPA, airport improvement project funding accounted in 2007, which AOPA called a "fairly typical year," for $3.34 billion distributed to 2,610 airports. That, says AOPA, was shuffled out to 341 primary airports that received $2.1 billion for an average of $6.17 million per airport; 48 commercial airports that saw on average $1.94 million each; 139 GA reliever airports that received about $1.54 million each; and 982 general aviation airports that worked with about $628,000 each. According to AOPA, the total split between 389 airline airports and 1,121 GA airports worked out to $5,5 million per airline airport versus about $742,000 per GA airport.

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