Aviation Groups Fuming over USA Today Story

 - September 29, 2009, 11:40 AM

A story on general aviation airports in the September 17 issue of USA Today, and a companion video news segment broadcast that same day on NBC’s Today show, drew intense fire from the aviation alphabet groups representing general and business aviation. The stories indicted the FAA’s Airport Improvement Program (AIP) for spending some $18 billion in tax money for improvements at more than 2,800 “little used” general-aviation airports instead of at 139 airline-served airports. NBAA president Ed Bolen called it a “one-sided story about small community airports [that] lacks any sense of balance, and presents a gross misperception of the value of general aviation, public-use airports, federal funding of the air-transportation system and the needs of millions of Americans in communities nationwide.” Meanwhile, AOPA president Craig Fuller said the USA Today story was “completely devoid of journalistic balance,” noting that GA airports receiving AIP grant money in 2007 each received an average of $750,000 versus $5.5 million in funding at airline airports.