Small Airports Key To Private Aviation's Value Equation

There's a saying in business that a mile of road will get you just one mile, but a mile of runway will get you anywhere. Fact is local and community airports are vital to business travel, facilitating commerce that might otherwise not occur, and propelling regional economies everywhere. They are an important part of private air travel, enabling access to places that might otherwise be hard to reach. They are a natural magnet for private fliers. 

While you may have to drive an hour or more to reach the nearest major airport when travelling with an airline, that small airport closer to home or office is your launching pad the world when you fly private. One of the major benefits of private aviation is being able to access literally thousands of airports that are not served by the airlines. Small airports are often conveniently located closer to major cities than their larger counterparts. In business time really is money. Smaller airports allow business to be conducted more efficiently. In many cases these airports benefit from not having an airline presence. Supporting myriad other aviation uses, small airports allow for less congested, and less costly operations. These "general aviation" facilities in turn become magnets for business development and regional growth. They support thousands of jobs and produce millions of dollars in direct, indirect, and induced economic benefits for their adjacent communities.

Westchester County Airport, White Plains, New York is just north of Manhattan and a relatively congestion-free alternative to NYC. There are restrictions on airline access and general aviation flourishes.

Westchester County Airport, White Plains, New York is just north of Manhattan and a relatively congestion-free alternative to NYC. There are restrictions on airline access and general aviation flourishes.

Take the New York City area as an example. Anyone who has flown into LaGuardia, Newark, or Kennedy, knows that lengthy delays are a fact of life even on a clear weather day. Private fliers know to avoid these airports and instead land at either Teterboro, located less than 15 miles from the Lincoln Tunnel, or Westchester County Airport, located near White Plains. These smaller airports are no less capable of handling all types of aircraft with the kinds of services needed to support a broad segment of aviation; from fueling and handling, to aircraft maintenance, to serving as ports of entry into the United States.

London's Biggin Hill Aerodrome is a stone's throw from one of the biggest cities in the world. Photo credit: AIN.

London's Biggin Hill Aerodrome is a stone's throw from one of the biggest cities in the world. Photo credit: AIN.

A similar picture exists at many other major business and entertainment capitals around the world. In Los Angeles, Van Nuys is one of the most popular general aviation airports in the US, and several other options abound from Santa Monica to Burbank. As an alternative to delay-plagued Heathrow, in London England there are Biggin Hill (a former WW II aerodrome that played a major role in the Battle of Britain) as well as Stansted, Farnborough, Luton, and London City Airports. The latter is situated adjacent the thriving Docklands area and close to the city's financial district. In Paris there's Le Bourget, which is the closest airport to the city centre. Toronto Pearson may be Canada's busiest but downtown Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport is the closest to the business and entertainment districts. Those living west of the city can also choose from Hamilton, or Kitchener/ Waterloo, or Oshawa to the east. Flying privately into and out of smaller airports means ducking under all of the heavy airline traffic.

Miami Opa Locka Airport is a hub of private aviation activity in South Florida.

Miami Opa Locka Airport is a hub of private aviation activity in South Florida.

Vacationers love Florida, and the popular Gold Coast that runs from Palm Beach south to Miami has 3 major international airports with which airline travelers may be familiar (Palm Beach Intl, Ft. Lauderdale/Hollywood Intl, and Miami Intl). However, the region actually hosts another 8 local airports that are among some of the most popular in the world for private fliers. These include Ft. Lauderdale Executive, Boca Raton, Opa Locka, and Tamiami.  Strong population growth has meant that getting around south Florida can be an exercise in extreme patience. Discerning travelers can find their local airport saves them time, money, and stress. Its not all about inbound tourism, however. Many businesses that need to do commerce outside the state rely on their local small airport for that competitive edge.

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