New DAL Genav Fees Remain in Limbo as Rates Ironed Out

 - October 5, 2018, 9:09 AM

The timing of new general aviation landing fees at Dallas Love Field (DAL) remains uncertain as airport and city officials continue to hash out the details on determining fair rates and how to apply them. In late April, the Dallas city council approved the assessment of new landing fees for general aviation aircraft at DAL, originally proposing $5.80 per 1,000 pounds—among the highest in the U.S.

Its fees were initially targeted to be implemented in July, but the city agreed to push them off until this month after the Love Field Pilots Association (LFPA) expressed concerns about metrics used for the rate structure. LFPA formed a task force over the summer to delve into general aviation’s costs and contributions to DAL and since has met with city and airport officials several times about the issue.

But LFPA has asked for further delays highlighting inconsistent data that was being used to develop the fees. While the city has not given a firm timeline, LFPA officials indicate they believe it might get pushed further until January 1. The rates still have not been finalized.

In an October 1 letter to airport director Mark Duebner, LFPA underscored that the discussions have been helpful. But it also pointed to “great concern” that the outlined fee structure would penalize based general aviation operators. Transient Part 135 operators, the letter added, “would actually pay a significantly lower landing fee than full-time-based tenants operating under Part 91. This arrangement is extremely unfair to those general aviation operators who are based at the field and who are therefore also paying rent, as well as various other taxes and fees at the airport.”

LFPA suggested a restructuring of the fee assessments to provide more parity—recognizing contributions of the based aircraft—with a review after six months. “The goal is not to over-charge the general aviation community, but to simply allocate fees to the different airport operators on a fairer basis, and to not use the fees to generate excess revenues, but merely to cover costs,” the organization said.


More context would have been helpful. How much do the airlines pay per landing now? What are the airport fuel flowage rates for the airlines? for GA? What about infrastructure lease rates for the airline terminals as well as the FBOs? Whose money went into the infrastructure, public or private?

GA already pays a very fair (huge) share by using/supporting/paying for the various FBOs and based-aircraft facilities on the airport, as well as ad valorem taxes by the based-aircraft.

As far as recovering airport costs go, the weight of an aircraft must be given its rightful contribution to the wear and tear on the runways and taxiways, and the simple calculations of dollars per thousand pounds do not properly address this problem. For example, I know on an interstate highway that ONE 18-wheel tractor/trailer causes the equivalent damage to the highway that approximately 7,000 passenger cars cause; that's not a linear correlation, it's closer to exponential. I'm sure the same logic and engineering calculations apply to aircraft weight versus damage, too. The point is that GA aircraft, even fairly large jets, do not come close to causing the damage (wear and tear) that heavier airliners cause, so the cost-recovery attributed to smaller aircraft must be exceptionally less per pound than the airliners.

This is not a simple problem. I wish the LFPA well in their efforts to achieve fairness.

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