Minnesota Business Aviation Association… In The Trenches For Businesses That Own or Operate Aircraft

MINNEAPOLIS – Any business that owns or operates an aircraft in Minnesota will be glad to know that there is an association working hard on their behalf. That organization is the Minnesota Business Aviation Association (MBAA), which is modeled after the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA). Among MBAA’s 600-plus members are several Fortune 500 companies, but small and medium-size companies make up the core of the organization.

The list of inroads and accomplishments of MBAA are many.

In 2007, MBAA was an active member of the St. Paul Chamber of Commerce working with the St. Paul City Council and Mayor Coleman to secure approval to build the dike for St. Paul Downtown Airport (STP).

In 2008, MBAA worked with the flight departments of Marvin Windows and Doors, and The Schwan’s Foods Company, to reduce a proposed landing fee at MSP by 24 percent.

In 2009, MBAA successfully added amendments to House File 1309, obligating the repayment of the $15 million to the State Airports Trust Fund, which was transferred to the General Fund in May of 2009 by the Governor and Minnesota Legislature. The airport fund is fifth in line to be repaid. While there is no set date, the legislature and the governor will have to act on this issue in the future, thanks in large part to MBAA, the Minnesota Aviation Trades Association, and elected officials who support air transportation in Minnesota.

MBAA has established that if the airport appropriation for either year of the biennium is not expended, the Commissioner of Finance, upon request of the Commissioner of Transportation, shall notify the chairs and ranking members of the House and Senate Transportation Committees of the amount, which shall then be added to the airport appropriation.

MBAA supports the Minnesota Office of Aeronautics in its use of the State Airports Trust Fund for the 5 percent local match for an airport not classified as a “key system” airport, which are airports that receive non-stimulus federal funds.

MBAA successfully added two aviation projects to the 2009 Capital Investment Bill: $1.7 million to lengthen and re-construct the runway at Bigfork Airport; and $2.0 million to purchase and install radar equipment to close the gap in central Minnesota. This total amount of $3.7 million will be counted toward repayment of the $15 million transferred from the State Airports Fund to the General Fund.

The radar gap in central Minnesota is proving to be a challenge. The FAA is not supporting any expansion of Wide Area Multilateration facilities at this time. The future of the $2 million that was bonded for this project is still available, but as of today, there is no definitive plan to close the gap.

In 2010, MBAA succeeded in including $1.7 million in the 2010 bonding bill for a hangar at Thief River Falls, Minnesota, and helped to secure $11.7 million for the terminal at Duluth International Airport.

MBAA has worked with the MnDOT Office of Aeronautics and Delta Airlines to ensure that the Air Flight Property Tax is applied according to Minnesota Statute 270.075, and in changing the collection of this tax from January to March, which better aligns with the Minnesota construction season.

MBAA continues to monitor the landing fees at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP); it is actively supporting the construction of a Wide Area Multilateration site near Alexandria; and it is an active member of the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce Transportation Committee, Aeronautics Statewide System Plan, and Metropolitan Aviation Advisory Council.

MBAA was successful in including $3.7 million for runway preservation in the fiscal year 2011 bonding billing. The goal is to help the MnDOT Office of Aeronautics maintain the pavement condition index, statewide, above 50 on a scale of 0 to 100. MnDOT has indicated that Minnesota runways are all above the goal of 50.

MBAA works closely with the Association of Minnesota Counties, League of Minnesota Cities, Minnesota Council of Airports, Minnesota Aviation Trades Association, and National Business Aviation Association to monitor local, state and federal issues.

On February 9, 2012, the Minnesota Business Aviation Association spearheaded a lobbying effort called “Aviation Day At The Capitol” in St. Paul. Members of the entire Minnesota aviation community came together to meet with their elected officials to get them up to speed on their respective aviation issues, and to explain in general terms, how important general aviation and airports are to their local communities. Cosponsors of the event included the Minnesota Council of Airports (MCOA) and Minnesota Aviation Trades Association (MATA). Plans are to make this an annual event.

MBAA is making a big effort to change the way fees and taxes are collected from aircraft owners. Currently, Minnesota has a relatively high aircraft registration fee compared to other states. MBAA has proposed instead to charge a higher state fuel tax, so transient aircraft make a greater contribution to the Minnesota Aviation Trust Fund and corporations are encouraged to base their aircraft in the state.

2012 MBAA officers include Kristi Stengl of Premier Jet Center, President; Nathan Hover, pilot, Vice President; Michael Lawrence of Key Air Twin Cities, Secretary/Treasurer; and Gordon Hoff, Executive Director.

For additional information on the Minnesota Business Aviation Association, visit its website: www.mbaa-mn.org/

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