Bakersfield Airport Closure Request Denied


The FAA says Bakersfield Municipal Airport (California) will remain an airport “in perpetuity” despite the current city council’s development designs. The city asked the FAA to relieve it of its obligations under the Airport Improvement Program so it could sell off the airport for housing and commercial development. The FAA could have simply said no, citing the agreements it has in place with Bakersfield as part of the city’s acceptance of about $10 million worth of federally funded improvements. But, according to AOPA, Catherine Lang, the agency’s acting associate administrator for airports, took the time to spell out the reasoning and to debunk the city’s position that it’s dangerous and a drain on its coffers. The city had claimed that it’s underutilized but the airport sees about 30,000 operations a year and is home to about 100 GA aircraft. Allegations that aircraft using the municipal strip could conflict with commercial traffic at nearby Meadows Field were dismissed as “unsubstantiated” and Lang also pointed out that despite the uncertainty created at the airport by the city’s lack of support, the airport still makes about $42,000 a year in profit. The real legal clout behind the FAA’s position is the fact that federal funds were used to buy the airport and that means, under current FAA policy, that it will always be available for aviation.