June 07, 2006

Hike Gabreski Landing Fees

There was no pretense in Jay Schneiderman's proposal to hike night landing fees at Gabreski Airport in Westhampton Beach. The county legislator wanted to provide a disincentive to pilots in an effort to limit the impact of the airport on surrounding neighbors.

During his first term in office, Schneiderman proposed a substantial increase in the fees, but officials from the Federal Aviation Administration felt they were too steep. This week, County Executive Steve Levy signed a bill setting a more modestly increased night landing fee schedule for planes landing between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. He noted the financial impact of late night and early morning landings have on personnel and equipment at the county facility.

According to his press office, the fees for single engine and twin engine aircraft are set by the weight of the plane. New landing fees mean a twin engine commercial aircraft over 25,000 pounds will pay $133 to land during the designated nighttime hours. A pilot would buck up $100 to land during the day. Heavier planes, weighing over 50,000 will pay $199.50 at night and $150 during the day. "I hope this dissuades pilots from landing late at night and early in the morning," Schneiderman said last week. "We can't simply ban them. This is as good as it's going to get."

Since he took office in 2004, Schneiderman has made operations at Gabreski Airport a signature issue. With the county executive, he worked to improve operations and increase revenue at the locale while at the same time attempting to ensure surrounding homeowners have a say in the future of the facility. Recently, he called for a moratorium on any expansion proposals for businesses at the airport until a master plan currently underway has been completed. Overall, he said, his priority is "getting the community involved in the decision-making process at Gabreski Airport."

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