Mon, May 03, 2004
AOPA: Boyer Warns Minnesota Governor Against Excessive Airport
AOPA President Phil Boyer
gave a "heads up" warning to Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty that
the growing controversy over funding of the Metropolitan Airports
Commission (MAC) reliever airports could pose serious political
problems in the future.
Boyer and AOPA Vice President of Regional Affairs Roger Cohen
met with Pawlenty, his top staff, and AOPA member and state Senator
Mike Jungbauer (R-Anoka) (pictured below) prior to Thursday's
presentation to the MAC.
"Governor Pawlenty clearly understands the issue. However, he
believes that a reasonable increase may be needed but that we need
a reasonable period of time to implement any changes," said Boyer.
The rates have been raised only once since the early 1960s.
The Metropolitan Airports Commission, a majority of whom are
Pawlenty appointees, has been under strong pressure from Northwest
Airlines to alter funding of the MAC system so that general
aviation users pay increased fees. Northwest's CEO, Richard
Anderson, has escalated the issue nationally with an anti-GA essay
in his airline's in-flight magazine which in turn led to a USA
Today editorial, a traveler-friendly newspaper in which Northwest
Ironically, Boyer's meeting with Pawlenty and presentation to
the MAC occurred the same day Northwest announced its four top
executives, including Anderson, were granted more than $6 million
in new stock bonuses. At the same time the airline reported a
first-quarter loss of some $236 million.
"Our 8,000 Minnesota members need to continue to make their
voices heard, particularly with the MAC and Gov. Pawlenty," said
Boyer. "Northwest will keep pushing political buttons locally and,
as we've seen, on a national level. But AOPA will not allow
Northwest - or any other airline - to dictate the future of general
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