April 27, 2017

In a recent letter to Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, several members of Minnesota’s congressional delegation urged her to advocate for adequate funding for aviation programs in Minnesota in the administration’s 2018 budget, saying local, public-use airports were vital to state residents, as well as businesses.

The letter was sent by Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken, and Reps. Collin Peterson, Betty McCollum, Tim Walz, Keith Ellison, and Rick Nolan. They urged continued funding for:

• The Essential Air Service Program supports flights to and from airports in Bemidji, Brainerd, Chisholm/Hibbing, International Falls and Thief River Falls.
• The Contract Tower Program allows air traffic services to be contracted to the private sector at vital, smaller airports, such as Anoka County Airport and St. Cloud Regional Airport. The program is cost efficient and provides air traffic control services that are essential for air transport, agriculture and public safety.

“We are home to more than 135 public airports ranging from a 3,500-foot grass strip at Backus Municipal Airport to Minneapolis–St. Paul International Airport (MSP), the 16th busiest airfield in the country,” the lawmakers wrote. “All of these airports and the nearly 12,000 licensed pilots in Minnesota are key to the continued health of the aviation sector.

“According to a study by the FAA, in 2012 civil aviation contributed more than $16.5 billion to Minnesota’s economy and supported 146,000 jobs,” they continued. “Healthy hub, regional and general aviation airports are important to maintaining Minnesota’s robust commercial, business and general aviation sectors.”

Anoka County Blaine Airport (Janes Field) (ANE)

Bob Quinn, NBAA’s Central regional representative, said Minnesota’s state and federal lawmakers recognize the economic value general aviation, including business aviation, brings to their state, and credited the Minnesota Business Aviation Association (MBAA) and other stakeholder groups for their strong advocacy efforts.

“Aviation is a prominent economic component in Minnesota, and groups like MBAA and others make sure their representatives know it’s importance,” Quinn said.