Wichita’s mayor protests USA Today airports article

BrewerThis just in from city hall’s communication office:

“Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer has joined with mayors in Arizona and Iowa in a joint letter of protest over a USA Today article published last week regarding federal funding of airports. The letter, shown below, was issued by the Alliance for Aviation Across American. It notes several major facts that were ignored by the author of the article in the national newspaper.”

The USA Today story has an interactive map that shows Wichita’s Mid-Continent Airport had 60 grants worth $131,054,559 in 28 years. The grants, the report says, come mostly from taxes on airline tickets.

Follow the jump to a letter Brewer signed to the newspaper:

Dear Editor,

Your recent article, (“Feds keep little-used airports in business,” 9/18), unfortunately missed a multitude of facts – most of which contradict the author’s apparent predetermined thesis.

First, Mr. Frank’s statement that general aviation airports only serve “private” pilots is patently false. The truth is that the FAA has made it a national priority to maintain these airports because they are used by the National Guard, law enforcement, air ambulances, search and rescue operators, flight schools, small businesses, charitable organizations, farmers and ranchers, as well as for medical care and organ and blood transplant. For those of us who don’t live in Washington, DC, New York City or many other large cities, these airports are a literal lifeline to gain access to resources, business and medical care.

Moreover, Mr. Frank completely ignores the safety factors that primarily determine what airports get AIP funding, instead dismissing the funding as unnecessary money for “runway repairs and noise mitigation.” Most importantly, Mr. Frank’s “assessment” that these funds are an “unfair subsidy” to small airports is a downright insult to rural America. General aviation – which serves as a lifeline to thousands of communities without commercial air service – is responsible for generating 1.2 million jobs and $150 billion in economic impact for the United States. In Kansas, which includes Wichita as the “Air Capital of the World,” general aviation contributes $7.2 billion each year to our state’s economy, and general aviation manufacturers like Cessna, Hawker Beechcraft, and Bombardier employ thousands. In Iowa, general aviation airports employ over 2,200 people and provide $187 million in economic output to the state. In Arizona, the impact of general aviation activity and support services in Arizona is approximately $842 million.

Mr. Frank may think that these airports are unimportant, but on behalf of thousands of rural communities around the country and millions of hard-working Americans, we respectfully disagree.

Sincerely,

Mayor Carl Brewer – Wichita, KS City Hall, 1st Floor MS 1-135 455 N. Main Wichita, KS 67202 (316) 268-4331

Mayor Steve Van Oort – Ankeny, IA 2505 NW 3rd Street Ankeny, IA 50023 515-965-9036

steve@stevevanoort.com Mayor Rick Fernau – Show Low, AZ

City of Show Low, AZ 550 North 9th Place Show Low, AZ 85901 928-537-7751

rfernau@frontiernet.net