NBAA: USA Today Story on GA Airports Biased

 - September 17, 2009, 11:13 AM

Responding to a story in this morning’s issue of USA Today, and a companion video news segment on NBC’s Today show, NBAA said the “big news outlets and the big airlines took a gratuitous and uninformed slap at general aviation.” In short, the published story and broadcasted video indicted the FAA’s Airport Improvement Program for spending some $18 billion in tax money for improvements at more than 2,000 “little used” general aviation airports instead of at the 138 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.” He pointed out that these small airports “serve a vital role” for the surrounding communities, while noting that Congress has “long recognized that the upkeep of a national system of airports is an established national priority.” Meanwhile, AOPA president Craig Fuller called the USA Today story “completely devoid of journalistic balance that fails to acknowledge the millions of Americans who benefit from the nation’s 5,200 general aviation airports every day.” He added, “It completely ignores the fact that Congress regularly allocates far more for air carrier airports than for general aviation airports,” 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.