MassPort Suspends Controversial Small Airplane Landing Fees
BOSTON (AP) _ Logan International Airport operators voted Tuesday to suspend increased landing fees aimed at discouraging small aircraft from using the congested airport.
But the Massachusetts Port Authority also voted to fight a Transportation Department ruling issued last week declaring Logan’s landing fee structure unreasonable, discriminatory and in violation of federal laws. Critics said the increase raised small plane fees by 500 percent.
In last week’s ruling, Deputy Transportation Secretary Mimi Weyforth Dawson signed an order that gave MassPort seven days to rescind its fee structure or lose eligibility for $10.2 million in federal aviation improvement grants for the current fiscal year.
The MassPort board voted to temporarily suspend the increased landing fees, but planned on Wednesday to file a request in U.S. Court of Appeals for a review of the transportation agency’s ruling, said Massachusetts Port Authority spokeswoman, Theresa McAlpine.
″We are simply recognizing that an aircraft carrying hundreds and hundreds of people should not have to wait in line while a small craft carrying maybe one or two people lands,″ said Ms. McAlpine.
Meanwhile, small aircraft lobbyists said they would continue their vigorous opposition to the plan.
″At this point the whole case has been ... groundbreaking. We feel that the Department of Transportation’s decision is final and binding and certainly very clear,″ said Patricia Weil, a spokesman for the national Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, which fought the fee increase. ″We feel like we’ve won and the message is clear.″
The plan, called the Program for Airport Capacity Efficiency, went into effect July 1. It was intended to reduce congestion and delays by charging hefty landing fees for users of small craft to keep them from flying in and out of the airport.
Organizations representing small aircraft pilots reacted to what they estimated was a 500 percent fee increase by filing complaints in court and with the Department of Transportation.