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Thu, Apr 21, 2011

GA Airports Get Organized

Group Of GA Airport Operators Launches Coalition Aimed At Preserving And Protecting GA Airports

A group of general aviation airport operators that began meeting in late 2010 has officially formed a national coalition to exclusively represent the interests of general aviation airports. The General Aviation Airport Coalition’s (GAAC) primary mission is to “preserve and promote our nation’s general aviation airports.”

“There are several excellent organizations that represent general aviation to federal lawmakers and federal agency officials, but these groups do not exclusively represent the general aviation airport,” says Richard Lewis, Interim Chair of the Coalition and Director of Concord Regional Airport in North Carolina. “GA airports need eyes and ears on the ground to exclusively look out for policies that impact our airports.”

For example, federal agencies like the TSA are considering placing additional requirements on GA airports but are not proposing any funding support to help implement such changes. “GA Airports need to work together to create a strong, unified voice to prevent the federal government from forcing us to do things we cannot afford to do,” Lewis says.

General aviation airports are an integral component of the national transportation system and local economic development. In addition to providing numerous healthcare and safety benefits to a community or region, general aviation airports function as economic engines and serve as lifelines to thousands of small to mid-size communities throughout the country. General aviation's overall economic output in the U.S. is estimated at $150 billion annually, supporting more than 1.2 million jobs.

The Coalition, which meets at least monthly via conference call and online, recently launched its new website on April 5 and is about to engage in a major national marketing campaign to recruit new members. Some of the group’s membership benefits include an online forum where GA airport stakeholders can share information and best practices. The Coalition is developing a list of federal priorities that it will promote and is creating a resource library to assist airports in their day-to-day management and operations.



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