Friday, September 18, 2009
Jet Set Says "Thanks, Suckers"
I have long been of the opinion that the Fayetteville Corporate Executive Jetport in Greenland is a shameless boondoggle and have said so here. Those who disagree always say that Airport Director Ray Boudreaux is a good songster at Rotary and that he is good at getting grants from the Federal Aviation Administration to fancy up the place around those empty hangers for the convenience of private jet owners and a couple of corporations that are behind on the rent. The Fayettevillage Voice recently noted that Ray wants another $23 million from you for his playpen.
It is very nice for the handful of corporate executives who use the publicly financed facility. Theirs is "a world of ease and tranquility unknown to airline passengers who endure long trips to airports, costly parking, slow security screening, packed airplanes and delayed flights." Think about the last time you had to fly somewhere and how much fun that was. You could avoid all that if you owned your own jet and had the taxpayers building you a convenient jetport.
What I never knew until last week is that I have been wedging my tired body into cramped economy class and suffering the other indignities of flying out of XNA -- and paying for Ray's jetport for the rich and famous. The $15 billion in grants that have been handed out to general-aviation airports from the federal Airport Improvement Program -- more than $2.1 billion this year -- is financed by federal taxes on every commercial airplane ticket sold in the United States. These can add as much as 15% to the cost of your flight to see your sick granny, maybe $60 on a roundtrip ticket, to keep $90K Ray's jetset buddies happy at Drake Field and thousands of other dinky airports like it as far away as Springdale and Rogers.
They appreciate your generosity and toast you with champagne.