The state of Alaska, facing declining revenue from oil and related sources, may begin charging weight-based landing fees at Deadhorse Airport, a facility that serves North Slope oil fields.
AOPA is encouraging pilots to attend two public meetings on the proposal scheduled for Fairbanks on March 25 and Anchorage on March 26, and to submit comments on the fee proposal by April 16 as provided below.
Alaska’s Department of Transportation and Public Facilities should examine other approaches to supporting the aviation system before it resorts to a precedent-setting policy of charging landing fees, said Tom George, AOPA’s Alaska regional manager.
George is the general aviation representative to the governor’s Aviation Advisory Board. The board was briefed on the proposal at its February meeting, he said.
The draft policy would impose a landing fee of $2 per 1,000 pounds certified maximum gross takeoff weight for aircraft that weigh more than 6,000 pounds certified maximum gross takeoff weight. The fees would be imposed in conjunction with expanded hours of operation at the airport, which is currently attended daily from 0600 to 1730Z.
"AOPA will be looking at this issue in terms of its impact on our members, and the precedent it may establish across the state," George said.
About 90 percent of Alaska’s state budget is funded by oil revenue. As the price of oil has plummeted since mid-2014, the budget crunch has been aggravated by declining volumes of oil transported via the Trans-Alaska Pipeline, George said.
Although the FAA funds about 90 percent of many airport development project costs, funding operations and maintenance at the more than 250 state-owned airports is the state’s role—a critical obligation in a state where more than 80 percent of communities are not connected to the road system, and rely on airports and airplanes as their primary connection for transportation, groceries, mail, and other services, he said.
Members should submit comments by April 16 to Rich Sewell, Aviation Policy Planner, Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities, P.O. Box 196900, Anchorage Alaska 99519-6900. You may also fax comments to 907/269-0489, or submit them by email before 5 p.m. ADT on April 16.
Dan Namowitz | Aviation Writer
Dan Namowitz is an aviation writer and flight instructor. He has been a pilot since 1985 and an instructor since 1990.