WASHINGTON, D.C. — The mid-term election was a surprise to many people. Some it pleased. To others it caused discomfort. But to officials of general aviation advocacy groups who deal regularly with Congress, election results are neutral.
The associations deal with both political parties over the years and there is no desire to make a comment that could be filed away to remind a person or party that a particular association was not nice in what was said at any time.
Ed Bolen, president of the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA), said “we know the value of the industry will continue to be recognized by members of both parties, as demonstrated by the large, bipartisan nature of the House and Senate GA Caucuses.”
He added the caucuses are about evenly divided along party lines. Lawmakers come from urban and rural districts, coastal areas and the middle of the country. In all these places business aviation is essential in creating jobs, helping companies of all sizes succeed, and providing an economic lifeline, he noted.
Officials at the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) said they are encouraged as many key general aviation supporters kept their positions. Two of the incoming Republicans are also AOPA members — Barry Loudermilk of Georgia and former Governor Mike Rounds, elected to fill one of South Dakota’s Senate seats.
There will need to be some rebuilding in the House and Senate Caucuses. According to AOPA, the Senate Caucus will lose at least seven members; the House will need to seek new leadership after Rep. John Barrow (R-Ga.) was defeated.
Tom Cotton, a representative from Arkansas who co-sponsored the House’s General Aviation Protection Act, will be moving from the House to the Senate.
Even with all the changes, the House GA Caucus is still one of the largest in the Congress.
Santa Monica airport problems continue
Although not a Washington subject, the future of Santa Monica Airport (SMO) had a disappointing election result for GA advocates. Currently this important airport in the Los Angeles area is teetering on the edge. Developers want to build industrial sites and offices on the airport. Over recent years there have been exorbitant landing and rental fees and other attempts to strangle the airport.
A measure passed by the voters leaves the City Council in charge of the airport. AOPA worked over the years to keep the airport operating. The association supported an initiative on the Nov. 4 ballot that would have required voter approval before the city could make any changes. This measure failed.
Airport advocates know the importance of an airport in the Los Angeles area to relieve Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and to provide the economic connection with the world that an airport brings.
Bill Dunn, AOPA vice president of airports, said that association will continue to work to keep the airport open.
Having flown into SMO on a few occasions on business, I recognize the value of the airport as a business asset.