“In general, the FAA does not permit temporary closure or restriction of federally obligated airports for non-aeronautical purposes,” reads Compliance Guidance Letter (CGL) 2020-01.
This CGL is dated March 16, 2020, and was written by Kevin C. Willis, Director of the Office of Airport Compliance and Management Analysis (ACO-1), to provide guidance for “Handling Proposals to Temporarily Close or Restrict All or Parts of Federally Obligated Airports for Non-Aeronautical Purposes Related to Public Health Concerns.”
CGL 2020-01 is clearly referring to the global coronavirus pandemic.
The majority of the country is under some altered state of reality whether it be a lockdown or stay-at-home or some similar sort of order.
Whether you agree with that altered reality, the FAA takes exception to local jurisdictions trying to close a “federally obligated airport for non-aeronautical purposes.”
The CGL is short. Less than a page and it is written in pretty clear language. You might want to download a copy for yourself or make certain your airport’s management knows about it.
My favorite sentence is the entire last paragraph: “If an Office of Airports employee receives a request from any entity to close any part of a federally obligated airport for non-aeronautical purposes related to public health concerns, the employee should immediately contact ACO-1 for further handling the request.”
That made me smile. I feel like this is the type of letter a first-century king would’ve written to a neighboring king about an emissary transiting his land. Should the emissary cause any problems, the king must be advised directly and immediately. He will handle it personally.
I believe no reasonable person wants the pandemic to run any longer than necessary. My family is taking Washington state’s “stay at home” order seriously.
But in the meantime, as local, state, and federal officials do their best in these trying — and hopefully short-lived — times, the FAA is looking out for a vital national asset…our airports.