Trump visits cost small airports’ business
Readington Township, N.J. — Thor Solberg’s business is down — try practically nonexistent — at a time when it’s usually way up. He has President Donald Trump to thank for it.
Solberg’s is one of two small airports in western New Jersey that are essentially closed down because of federal aviation regulations because they are within 10 miles of where Trump is spending 17 days this month at his Bedminster country club. More than a dozen other airports also face restrictions.
This is high season for small airports that cater to amateur fliers and business clients. But at Solberg-Hunterdon Airport, which averages about 100 combined takeoffs and landings per day, a handful of planes sat idle Monday. Normally 70-80 planes would be paying to be housed there and paying for fuel and flight training time, Solberg said.
“Twenty percent of our annual business is affected by the president’s visits in the summertime, because that’s how much of our business takes place on the weekends in the summertime,” Solberg said.
Small airports and aviation-related businesses near Trump’s properties in Florida and New Jersey have lost out on hundreds of thousands of dollars in business already this year. And they have no recourse other than to appeal to the Secret Service, which oversees presidential security.
That proved unsuccessful for the owners of a small Florida airport within the no-fly zone near Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort. In March, the Secret Service told the tenants of Lantana Airport that aircraft couldn’t take off from the facility, which is about 6 miles southwest of Mar-a-Lago.
Several members of New Jersey’s congressional delegation sent a letter to the Secret Service in June urging it to consider allowing the airports near Trump’s residence to use a system similar to one in place near Washington, D.C., that allows properly screened pilots to fly to and from airports in a security-sensitive area.
There has been no response, Republican Rep. Leonard Lance said Monday.
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