The Trump administration’s proposal to move the responsibility of air traffic control to the private sector and eliminate a $283 million-a-year subsidy for airlines to serve smaller markets has raised concerns for local airport managers.
“Throw another tax or user fee in and (pilots) won’t fly in” to rural airports like Penn Valley Airport in Selinsgrove, said Jim Taylor, general manager at Energy Aviation which manages the Snyder County airport which will undergo a $1 million runway expansion this year to accommodate large commercial jets used by companies such as National Beef in Hummels Wharf.
The president’s proposal would likely drive up ticket prices and reduce funding for small airports, he said.
While commercial air traffic won’t likely be severely impeded, recreational pilots will take a big hit if they must pay more.
And though some private aircraft controllers perform well, Taylor said maintaining air-traffic control as the responsibility of the Federal Aviation Administration has been an ongoing battle for years.
“It’s a safety issue,” said Craig Lawler, co-chairman of the Danville Airport Authority.
Both Lawler and Taylor said the main issue is how the federal government is spending tax dollars on the U.S. air traffic system.
“This is just another way to add an additional tax to the too many taxes we already pay,” said Lawler, adding that small local airports have an economic impact. “These airports have the potential to bring in jobs and should be part of a national transportation network.”
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