WASHINGTON, DC, September 17, 2009 - Today, the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) countered a USA Today feature article on federal support for general aviation (GA) airports. In a letter to the paper’s editor, GAMA expressed their disappointment regarding the mischaracterization of the role GA airports play in the nation’s transportation system.
"Our aviation infrastructure is designed to support communities large and small throughout the nation. Unfortunately, the airlines have had difficulty serving many of these communities. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that in 2008, 38 airports lost all scheduled commercial service, with this rapid decline continuing into 2009," said Pete Bunce, GAMA's president and CEO.
GAMA also pointed out that GA airports serve as economic engines and are the lifelines to thousands of small to mid-size communities throughout the country. It is important to note that general aviation's overall economic output in the U.S. is $150 billion annually and the industry supports more than 1.2 million jobs. "It is the local airport that provides the portal for time critical parts and supplies to flow to and from businesses. Your reporters need to look no further than 40 miles south of the USA Today headquarters to see what tremendous impact the Culpepper and Stafford airports have had on the economic development of their communities," said Bunce.
GAMA also noted that even in large cities, general aviation airports that have no airline service serve as huge economic engines. Located just a few miles south of downtown Denver, Centennial Airport is one such economic powerhouse. A 2008 Colorado Department of Transportation study concluded that the jobs generated by Centennial number 10,485 with annual economic output to the community in excess of $897 million dollars.
He concluded, "At this time of severe economic distress, it is unconscionable that USA Today would mount such an ill-timed and unwise attack on an essential economic tool for our nation's recovery."
A copy of the full letter is attached.