Being fortunate enough to fly in Canada I never had to once pay for landing fee's. I,m sure the tax department sorted all that out. The point I,m trying to put out there is in the UK in order to build up our aerospace sector eliminating landing fees and reducing costs for GA would be a step in the right direction.
I believe it may be difficult but not impossible. There must be a change in thinking as in the last 50 years the UK has successfully killed 80% or so of its industry.
Now to write to AOPA.Perhaps we can get a few more MP's thrown into jail.
Never happen. Airfields are privately owned and maintaining the infrastructure costs money. Some of that cost is offset by the landing fees. Most places do not have enough alternate revenue sources to be able to fund the infrastructure without the landing fees.
Legislation would have to be re-written. Privately owned airstrips can be addressed ,subsidized and maintained by the treasury,under the guise of national interest. It is very clear we must begin to re-build industries or we will perish....the numbers are telling the story every 90days at the treasury. Never Happen.The Wright brothers "Made it Happen" Think Positive.We don't have any industry in the UK.
Running an aerodrome takes a lot of work. If this must be paid for, it is either from the users or from a third party. The third party may be a national authority, as is the case for all military fields, or a local authority, as is often seen in France - and also in the USA, I think - with their tradition of municipal aerodromes.
After reading these pages for several months, I am more and more bewildered by the differences between the UK and what I know of the rest of the world. That means mostly my own Belgian country, and a few impressions from France and Italy. English airfields seem, to a large degree, to be operated for profit by commercial companies and these will grab for money wherever they can. Who can blame them? But the scheme seems basically unsound to me.
Over here, most fields are run by aeroclubs, and worked by volunteers. A modest landing fee is general practice for PPL fliers, but many microlight-only fields (called ULM-odromes in our rural south) are completely free of charge, like many are in France too.
If you can't convince your authorities to run aerodromes as public services, the only realistic alternative is IMHO to have them operated by volunteers. Even then you might not get completely rid of landing fees, but at least they might become reasonable.
The "problem" with the UK is that it runs mostly on the "user pays" principle.
That this leads to either decrepitude (as in Elstree EGTR) or blatent exploitation of suckers who have nowhere else to go (as in Heathrow, Gatwick, etc, confiscating half your stuff and then flogging you a tube of "duty free" hand cream for £8) is something which "somebody else" worries about.
Airports here are nearly all free standing businesses, which need to raise money from a combination of
- a commercial property portfolio
- restaurant business
- landing fees
- parking charges
and with much of UK GA so tight that (to use my favourite phrase) you could not get a #1 Pozi screwdriver up their sphincters, it is not an easy business. Most UK pilots think a £20 landing fee is way too high
A quality airport has to be an industrial estate which just happens to have a runway and a tower next to it.
The real issue is with Planning regs which treat an airfield the same as a commercial park, so if Planning was granted for an airfield, it could be easily converted later into a commercial park, or a housing estate.
So it is almost impossible (so it appears, anyway, since the Planning application budget would need to be close to £100k so few if any people have tried it in recent decades) to start a new airfield, with a cost base appropriate to its usage.
The rateable value of everything there will be based on commercial property which will be so high that hangarage is at least £500/month (in the south east UK) just to cover the rates on the hangar, and that in turn leads to more decrepitude in GA generally because nobody with a half decent plane wants to keep it outdoors.
The most useful legislation by far would be one which creates a new Planning category for light aircraft airfields.
Mr. X99, this is an ungoing subject all over Europe and nothing new.
In the USA, the airfields get subsidized through the sales of fuel, in Europe there is no such system (it was a 40-yr. contract with the government that ran out a couple of years ago and I assume was renewed).
As has been mentioned, airfields cost a lot to run, from up-keep of the general condition, including mowing the grass on non-paved fields or between runways, to re-doing the markings regularly, plus keeping the rescue equipment in good shape, lighting both on the runway and apron if you have night flying, running the radios and other equipment, and perhaps paying some personel to do all that! And then there are the usual utility costs.... electricity, water, sewage, etc. etc.
Not all fields are able to run on volunteers only. Some club-run fields do lots of stuff for free, but some things still need to be paid for, and some clubs don't have enough members to keep things going and need outside help. Or no one in the club has the necessary experise (plumbing for the clubhouse, etc.).
The most useful legislation by far would be one which creates a new Planning category for light aircraft airfields.
What need? Over here, the category is "recreational" just like sports grounds, camping parks, and perhaps horse race tracks. Seems to work well enough, at least for existing fields. Not easy to get a new one licensed, though.
I do not drink friend, but I appreciate your contribution to the debate perhaps a positive Englishman is to be found yes?
Obviously a sense of humour failure here.
Rod1 is quite correct. There are a large number of strips with no landing fees. They are generally small and run by enthusiasts on their own land, usually on the 28-day rule and with limited movements
They won't have much in the way of facilities or staff, as that costs money.
At the other extreme are the wannabee International Spaceports, like Norwich. But in the middle are a range of airfields with different levels of facilities.
In France I was very impressed at the way that all sport facilities including the local airfields were well-supported by the municipality. At one gliding competition we were front page news in the local paper and the mayor turned up to welcome us.
Contrast that with recent news of Sandown, Wycombe et al and see just how loathed aviation has become.
Caernafon can't afford to continue with GA income being as low as it is, so it has to get income from a wind turbine. GA whinge, but they aren't paying the bills.
Personally I think there is nothing wrong in paying around £10 for a light single to land. Over that can be taking the p*ss.
Airfields are expensive things to run - rates on a hangar can be mind-blowing- so owners have to get income where they can.
In the end government and councils have other priorities than supporting light aviation. So unless we do our bit in supporting airfields - and that means using them and paying a reasonable amount, buying fuel and using their cafes - our airfields will be turned into football stadia, wind farms or industrial or housing estates, which is where the money is.
Yes landing fees are necessary and OK when "reasonable" but many operators have clearly no idea on how to run a business for the long term. I recently uplifted £250.00 of avgas and was charged a landing fee of £10.00 on top and that was in eastern England. So the operator not only has lost my future avgas sales but I would not even return for the cafe.
As already pointed out, all airfields are businesses to one degree or another. Even a small grass strip has to cover certain overheads unless it is a strictly private facility. If the bigger GA airfields are dying off then it is because the economics of it don't make it pay. There are a few very successful airfields and these are usually the ones with a combination of reasonable facilities and plenty of activity and members, such as Old Buckenham or Seething near me. These generally are in a minority.
To be successful an airfield has to offer more than just a piece of tarmac or grass to land on and so the successful fields are those with hangerage, a restaurant or a hotel and often maintenance facilities and a flying school. There is zero chance of government subsidising airfields in this country as they do in some countries. It always surprises me that there is so much winging about landing fees. Some people have a rather strange view of things, in that they are happy to pay £160 an hour and £1.80 per litre of avgas but begrudge a tenner.
On a point of order, there seems to be a stray " ' " creeping into the proceedings. The plural of "fee" is "fees" not "fee's"
It would be great if it could happen, but it never will.
Why should a private airfield / landing strip owner be forced to cease charging for landing fees? Under what legislation could it happen?
Would a privately owned car park ever be turned into a charity free for all? No. So why should a landing / parking place for aircraft?
The landing fee at one place (UK) I'm obliged to regularly land at is £650. That entitles me to a 15 minute slot. If I remain there over that time, "ad hoc" parking is charged at £300 per hour. Fuel is available at the normal rate but a refuel does not come with free parking. In the past I've had to argue that it was only because their refuel took longer than normal (refuel pump problem) that I strayed into the "ad hoc / excess parking" fee time, after it appeared on the bill.
Do you honestly think any business is going to give up that, or any, form of revenue?
Yes, the grocer's apostrophe (do a google) is very irritating.
The curious thing which I always ask myself is how one can write that way, having read any English books
Back to the topic, I can't see a rational basis for saying £20 is taking the micky. Sure, it could be lower, but you probably paid £100-200 to get there, and the difference to the airfield is huge (a factor of two actually ).
Experience around the UK tells us that £20 delivers a much better maintained place than £10. Obviously much of it is down to management etc but £10 is evidently hard to make things work at.
Private strips can be free, etc, and there is a vast pilot community which will absolutely not pay more than £5 (they must fly mainly between strips) but then somebody is subsidising it by cutting the grass etc in their own time, which is lovely but not substainable.
I think that, to compare the UK with USA/Canada, you're comparing apples with oranges.
Due to their size, topography and winter weather, light GA can often offer a advantage over road or rail in getting from A to B there.
The UK is tiny by comparison and, excluding a week or two a year, the weather makes road, rail and commercial flying massively more practical/economical than light GA. To that end, the powers that be feel private VFR GA flying can only be classified as a hobby or sport over here.
If you want to see how much money the government has to spare for sport at the moment, pop down to your local municiple gym/pool/rec and look at the state of it (if it even still exists). There's a reason why people mug up 50 quid a month to Bannatynes or LA Fitness...
Most marinas and golf clubs are private businesses or clubs, and for as long as private flying is viewed as solely a pastime, most airfields will be too.