National Airports Policy

National Airports Policy

Small airports

  • The federal government's National Airports Policy (NAP) provides a framework that clearly defines the federal role with airports. That role will be defined through two main levels of federal involvement in airports with scheduled passenger traffic nationally-significant airports that will form a National Airports System (NAS) and regional/local airports.
  • Airports not in the NAS but where there is currently federal involvement and which are served by scheduled passenger service will be offered to local entities for operation within a five-year period beginning April 1, 1995. After this time, federal funding in support of operations at these airports will end. There are 71 of these regional/local airports.
  • A group of 31 small, federally-supported airports which have no regularly-scheduled air service will remain. They serve local interests only, such as general aviation and recreational flying. In many instances, these airports are operated on behalf of the federal government by municipalities or other local entities. Some receive funding for annual operations from local sources while others receive an annual federal subsidy.
  • While there is no rationale for continued federal involvement in these airports, there remains an opportunity for local operation and development. Each community will be in a position to determine the future role of its airport.
  • Small airports that are satellites of international airports will be part of airport authorities operating the larger airports, with the understanding that operational assistance will be phased out in five years. If the airport authority is not interested in operating the satellite airport(s), the airport(s) will be placed in the appropriate airport category and handled accordingly.
  • Small airports (other than satellite airports) and their associated lands will be transferred to local interests through appropriate federal government processes. Federal funding for these airports will cease on March 31, 1997, or upon the transfer of title to another operator.
  • Airports may be sold or otherwise transferred on the basis of their value as an airport, with some restrictions, or on the basis of their market value based upon their highest and best use.
  • The 31 federal airports that fall within the small-airport category are identified in Appendix A.
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