Airports- A Disappearing Resource

It's ironic. While government and the traveling public often express their frustrations over the saturation of our airways and the endless delays for airline flights, the very solutions to the problem -- including improved, upgraded and even new general aviation facilities designed to relieve the strain on the system -- face incredible hurdles.

There is a short list of such obstacles that may prevent or delay relief for some time to come. But when it comes right down to it, one of the biggest challenges facing aviation today is that of operating airports, whether large or small, on a day-to-day basis in the face of community adversity.

The threats to airports in many parts of the country have increased over the years due to a variety of reasons, including political expediency, encroaching and non-compatible development, and a myriad of other often inexcusable or avoidable factors. In some locations the difficulties dealt devastating blows to aviation, such as airport closures, excessively restricted operations, and needless delay and expense to airport owners or managers who must defend their right to operate or to make improvements to their facilities.

Ultimately the local communities are the losers, because in the final analysis it is the area residents and businesses that suffer the consequences of reduced transportation capabilities, including all the economic and societal losses that follow. And note that these challenges threaten airports that are both privately and publicly owned.

But there is some good news to be found in the face of this adversity. There are wonderful airport success stories, often in places where airport operators, users, and supporters rallied and undertook programs and campaigns to generate the kind of community support that gives an airport a future. In other places, self-promotion and education have long meant self-preservation because the airport has proven itself to be part of the community and not just located in it.

There are tried and proven ways to prevent a tide of opposition from rising against your airport -- or, if it already has, to turn that tide back and garner support and understanding. There are lessons to be learned for all of us.