Airports serve an important role in transporting people to their work and leisure destinations plus serve as an essential partner in moving freight and farm products.
In Kentucky, the airport network helps propel our Commonwealth’s economic engine both directly. The state is ranked second in the nation in aerospace exports. Indirectly, it transports 5.5 million tons of freight, ranking the Kentucky third in the nation.
Strategic investments must be made in airport infrastructure. Here are several reasons:
There are 53 public use general aviation airports and six commercial airports supporting this booming industry.
General aviation airports do not provide regularly scheduled airline service, but do provide much needed access to areas across the Commonwealth.
Business and corporate passengers depend on general aviation airports for fast, reliable access to visit their facilities. Manufacturers utilize this network for timely movement of freight; the agriculture community depends on the network for crop services; and a nationally recognized aviation education program is housed at a GA airport.
I see this first-hand every day at Elizabethtown Flying Service, which operates Addington Field, the Elizabethtown Regional Airport, and is one of the most comprehensive fixed-base operation in Kentucky. We provide a wide array of services including corporate concierge assistance, aircraft refueling, freight handling, aircraft rental, flight training, major air frame and power plant maintenance, avionics sales and service.
We appreciate Gov. Matt Bevin’s recognition that airports are the gateways to our communities.
“The most important mile of asphalt a business leader will see in Kentucky might be that of a general aviation runway,” the governor said.
Bevin has allocated $20 million for rural airport improvements and proposed an additional $20 million in funding.
In addition, Kentucky’s Economic Development Cabinet website states: “The aerospace/aviation footprint is expanding in Kentucky in almost every sector from parts manufacturing to supply, from air freight service to education and workforce development. Plenty of factors contribute to the intense interest in Kentucky, chiefly a highly skilled and experienced workforce, excellent infrastructure and location.”
Airports — regardless of size and service — require continual maintenance and improvements to safely serve their customers. These projects are funded through a variety of sources including the Federal Aviation Administration Airport Improvement Program, Aviation Economic Development Funds and user fees.
However, there are $50 million in needs to maintain the 53 general aviation airports in Kentucky and nearly $8 million is needed to replace or remodel terminal buildings. Those needs threaten our ability to continue to leverage our aviation advantage.
Maintaining and improving the Commonwealth’s aviation network requires a reliable and consistent funding mechanism. That’s why we support the efforts of the Kentucky Infrastructure Coalition’s to create a long-term, sustainable funding mechanism that provides adequate revenues for all modes of transportation.
Reliable, consistent funding allows Kentucky’s airports to plan, design and complete major maintenance and improvement projects that will benefit all Kentuckians.