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News 'Investigations' on GA Incorrect and Short-sighted, NAFI Says

OSHKOSH, Wis. (September 21, 2009)—Last week, USA Today and NBC published reports indicting General Aviation (GA) airports and implying that they are an underutilized drain on the country that don’t provide real benefits to average Americans.

“The report that was produced was one sided, lacking in accuracy and research validity, and full of unfounded stereotypes about GA,” said NAFI Executive Director Jason Blair. “Local airports are where much of the flight training in this country begins. If USA Today and NBC would have us stop funding these airports and focus only on the larger airports that have commercial air traffic, where would the flight training for tomorrow's pilots take placeè Perhaps we should close community colleges across the country since they do not provide education to as many people as larger universitiesè”

Local airports have significant impact on the communities that surround them, Blair said. They provide jobs, and across the country, the businesses that serve pilots provide aircraft maintenance, car rentals, catering, manufacturing, and much more.

“If we choose to attack GA, it should be with the understanding that to do so would represent not only attacking the local airport, but the vast array of jobs that providing services to GA operations across the country,” Blair said.

Furthermore, the implication that an airport's funding should be cut, eliminated, or minimized because it may not be being used at "full capacity" is simple-minded and short of foresight, Blair said.

“It’s the equivalent of saying we should ask a hotel to close because all of the rooms weren't full, or eliminate a road because it’s only used by the people that lived on it,” Blair said. “The reality is that airports are infrastructure pieces that serve as entry points to communities and drive economic impact in a positive manner within those communities.”

While it’s difficult to quantify the entire impact that airports in particular, and GA as a whole, may have, that doesn't mean that the impact isn't there, Blair said.

“Our industry is under fire; stereotypes are being spread that we are just a bunch of rich playboys and playgirls,” Blair said. “The reality that we are a vital industry is not getting through to the general public. If we allow this to continue, we will lose this battle. All of us in GA need to work within our communities to show the value we represent and why we are vital to the communities and the economies where we work.”

For more factual information on the value of the nation's general airports, visit www.GAservingAmerica.com.