Airport detractors wrong (yet again)

In their quest to stop any possible expansion or improvement at Longmont’s Vance Brand Airport, the usual bunch of airport detractors throw out any falsehood or scare tactic they can dream of. 

Whether it’s the bi-monthly ravings of someone who first said she didn’t sign anything on her closing paperwork involving any airport, to acknowledging she did, then maybe didn’t, then, well it doesn’t matter if she did.  What are contracts for anyway?  Or the CARE leader who’s in way over his head yet remains under-educated on airports and funding issues, no matter how many times the FAA corrects him and his pointless organization.

The latest is this from CARE president David Hignite (emphasis add by me):
As the federal debt battle rages on in Washington, D.C., a small but interesting skirmish played out in the House of Representatives on HR 2553 this past week. The bill included the following provision:

“Revises essential air service program eligibility requirements to limit such service to airports (except those in Alaska) that: (1) are located at least 90 miles from the nearest medium or large hub airport, and (2) had an average subsidy per passenger of less than $1,000. Authorizes the Secretary of Transportation to waive such requirements for a particular location if its geographic characteristics result in undue difficulty in accessing the nearest medium or large hub airport.”

The bill and provision passed the House 242 to 172. Colorado Rep. Cory Gardner voted “aye.” Thank you, Rep. Gardner.

As many of you know, the Longmont City Council and Mayor Baum want to expand the runway at Vance Brand airport. The justification for the expansion is slim to none. But, like the chairman of the House Transportation Committee, John Mica, R-Fla., many legislators are realizing that spending scarce federal and state dollars to subsidize rural airports within 90 miles of a medium or large hub makes no sense. It makes even less sense for Longmont’s airport. Vance Brand is within 45 miles of DIA, 28 miles of Fort Collins/Loveland Municipal airport and 20 miles to Jefferson County airport.

While the Longmont City Council, Mayor Baum and the Airport Advisory Board continue to exert pressure for a big government agency expenditure to expand the Vance Brand runway, cooler heads with a common sense of balance in spending priorities are beginning to prevail. Spending millions of dollars to expand Vance Brand makes no sense in this, or any, economic environment.
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It always cracks me up when leftwingers cite conservatives/Republicans in a positive way to help make their point.  I’m sure the above letter will find at least one sympathetic, yet clueless ear in the form of Sean McCoy.  But here’s an interesting reply from Airport Manager Tim Barth in a letter to City Council (emphasis add by me):
Mayor and Council Members:

I was asked to provide additional and correct information on the e-mail below that was submitted to the Times Call and the Council by David Hignite.

The Federal Aviation Administration is in partial shutdown starting last Friday night after Congress adjourned Friday afternoon without approving an extension of the current FAA authorization which expired last Friday.

Both the House of Representatives and the Senate will return Today (Monday, July 25th) to continue working on a full re-authorization package.

Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL), the Assistant Majority Leader, asked unanimous consent to pick up the House-passed extension (H.R. 2553), amend it by striking the new Essential Air Service provisions being proposed by the House, and send it back to the House.  Republicans objected to the request.  Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) asked unanimous consent to pass H.R. 2553 without amendment, and Democrats objected.  At that point, the Senate adjourned until Monday.

The shutdown will affect some 4,000 FAA employees funded by three appropriation accounts which are drawn exclusively on the Airport and Airway Trust Fund: Facilities and Equipment; Research, Engineering and Development; and Grants-in-Aid to Airports.  Programs under those accounts were suspended starting last Friday. Funding under the Operations account (which includes all air traffic controllers and aviation safety inspectors) will not be affected.

I would like you to understand the Essential Air Service (EAS) program has nothing to do with Longmont Airport, nor any of the Front Range general aviation airports, no matter what their proximity to DIA. The EAS program provides airlines, not airports, with subsidies to fly into smaller communities that have limited access to larger airports because of geographical location.  General aviation airports, like ours, have nothing to do with HR 2553.

Without a re-authorization or a new bill, airports across the country will not be receiving grants, most of which are used for maintenance of existing facilities and infrastructure. You may recall from the Times Call last week that Ft. Collins was planning to rehabilitate their runway with a federal grant. This project is now on hold.  Without a re-authorization in the near future, failing to pass a new bill could affect our Airport as well from a maintenance and capital improvement perspective.

I hope this provides some clarification on a key aspect of the pending legislation.
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These clowns at CARE have to be corrected nearly every time they utter a word.  They are high on emotion and lacking in actual facts.  I’m sure the above letter by the airport manager will be ignored and we’ll hear the same arguments in the future, again, facts be damned.  I’ll close with a quote from Albert Einstein:  “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

About Chris Rodriguez

Chris is the editor/publisher of LightningRod Blog - as well as founder/editor of Wrongmont, Longmont Advocate, Vote!Longmont, Longmont Politics, the LightningRod Radio Network, as well as being the original Longmont Examiner. Chris is a writer and talker - whether it be blogs, podcasts, music, or public speaking. When he's not heard on Air Traffic radio, he can be heard on his podcasts or seen in the local paper causing trouble.
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