Plans To Stop Airport Sale In Its Tracks
They're at it again. Some Minnesota
politicians want to close and sell Crystal Airport (MIC), a general
aviation reliever airport for Minneapolis-St. Paul International
(MSP). But AOPA is at full charge to stop it.
"Crystal Airport handles some 20 percent of the regional GA
activity, with four runways, 188,000 annual operations, and 300
based aircraft," said Bill Dunn, AOPA vice president of airports.
"Close the airport and all that traffic would be forced elsewhere,
increasing delays at the other Twin Cities airports, principally
"But AOPA is going to fight to make sure this developer-backed
plan goes nowhere."
AOPA has asked to testify against the proposed Crystal Airport
sale at a state Senate aeronautics subcommittee hearing Friday,
In order to sell the airport, the Metropolitan Airports
Commission (MAC), which owns MIC, MSP, and five other reliever
airports in the Twin Cities area, would have to get a change in
Interestingly, it is MAC chair Vicky Tigwell who is pitching
state lawmakers on closing the airport. She's fronting a proposal
by the Northwest Corridor Partnership. That group, which includes
both public officials and private companies such as Target Corp.
and Wells Fargo Bank, wants the 430 acres of airport land to build
an industrial, retail, and housing complex in conjunction with a
bus rapid transit service along County Road 81.
Airport sale proponents claim that the proceeds could be used to
fund improvement projects at other MAC-owned airports. Northwest
Airlines has been pressing the MAC to divert funds from the
reliever airports toward MSP, the airline's home base. Among other
things, the airline wants the MAC to fund the construction of a new
terminal for Northwest's exclusive use.
The MAC also is considering fee increases for general aviation
users at the six reliever airports. That's something that AOPA has
been vigorously lobbying against. AOPA President Phil Boyer
appeared before the MAC in April and met with Minnesota Gov. Tim
The FAA is not likely to look favorably on the closure plan.
"The MAC has accepted federal AIP [airport improvement program]
funds for the airport, and with those funds comes a contractual
obligation to maintain and operate the airport for all users," said
Dunn. "Federal law is very clear; the FAA can only release an
airport sponsor from those obligations when there would be a net
benefit to civil aviation. That's a very high hurdle to clear."