PUBLISHED: 4:12 PM on Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Emergency regulations stops rural airport rent increases
JUNEAU - The Department of Transportation and Public Facilities (DOT&PF) issued an emergency regulation halting rural airport rent increases implemented earlier this year. Increases to rural lease rates were adopted in March.

The emergency regulation places a temporary moratorium on the rental cost increases until December 31, 2008. The Department will be holding public meetings this fall to discuss rental lease rates. These regulations apply to all the rural state-owned airports, but does not include the two international airports (Fairbanks and Ted Stevens Anchorage) or Lake Hood.

An emergency was established due to escalating costs of fuel impacting operations, rural dependency on aviation in Alaska, and reduced flights. The aviation industry is facing a crisis internationally, nationally, and locally. Over 24 airlines have filed for bankruptcy and many are on the brink. United Airlines is pulling out of Anchorage at the end of the season, and Continental Airlines is pulling out of 16 U.S. cities.

"We're seeing hardships and failures throughout the aviation industry due to fuel costs. With aircraft being the primary and sometimes only way to travel to many communities in our state-it has even more impact. Higher costs force operators to reduce flights, pass costs to passengers, or close. Fewer flights to our villages results in less access to food, health care, and can impact the safety of our rural communities. Aviation in Alaska is critical to our economy and public welfare. This moratorium gives time to consider options for increases folks can live with, amend the regulations if needed, and provides everyone breathing room to get through the next few busy summer months," stated Deputy Commissioner Christine Klein.