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Unfriendliest airport for GA in Australia?

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Unfriendliest airport for GA in Australia?

Old 4th May 2022, 04:03
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So typically Australian. Aviation for the purposes of private travel is just a marginal irritation and not to be encouraged. Aerodromes aren’t there for them.

Before ALOP, aerodromes were there for everybody at no cost. That's because Australia still had some inkling of the importance of private aviation along with other forms of general aviation.

I don’t stay away for the sake of $20. I stay away because I’m not welcome.

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Old 4th May 2022, 04:58
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By staying away for the sake of $20 you are guaranteeing that that apron won't be extended, or that that pothole will not get filled in.
Good luck extending an apron or fixing a pothole with 20 bucks.

You'll bring more money into the local economy therefore a greater economic benefit by dropping fees and having people want to stay the night, grabbing a pot and parmy, grabbing a cab each way to the airport etc.

Part of my flight planning is landing fees where I want to overnight - refuel.

This 'user pays' bullshit is a pox on the community. It's a pleasure flying in countries that see aviation as critical infrastructure that benefits all.
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Old 4th May 2022, 07:32
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In 2020 there were 72K camper vans and 669K caravans registered in Australia. By comparison GA is nothing. Our comparative contribution to regional communities is negligible so is not relevant.
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Old 4th May 2022, 07:57
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Presumably your "our" is a reference to just us mere private pilots flying for pleasure? If not, what are you including in "GA"?

And your word "contribution" is a little vague. Do you mean "economic" contribution? If not, what do you mean by "contribution"?
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Old 4th May 2022, 08:07
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On “numbers games” and the “costs of maintaining” an aerodrome

I have an interest in a property with a hangar and aircraft at YCTM. The local council has – to its credit – established an ‘Aerodrome Advisory Committee’ as a forum to listen to users’ perspectives and to run ideas up the flagpole or foreshadow proposals. The Committee was formed in the wake of a meeting that the Council called when it was proposing to implement fees based on the Avdata system. I am on the Committee. As a consequence of these meetings, we got to see Council’s annual expenses and income for the aerodrome.

The first issue to become stark is that the single largest expense – around 25% - is ‘general rates’. That is, rates Council charges of itself and pays to itself. Whilst this may be standard accounting practice, it does not represent an actual out-of-pocket cost to Council.

Then I discovered that some of the original aerodrome land handed to Council has been fenced off for agricultural use. The agricultural users pay a fee to Council for that use. I asked whether the fees those people pay to Council for use of that aerodrome land get accounted for as income from the aerodrome? No.

Then I asked whether the proceeds of the sale of subdivided blocks of land, which were originally part of the aerodrome handed to the Council then sold freehold by the Council, were accounted for as income from the aerodrome or set aside for the maintenance of the aerodrome? No.

Do any of the rates paid by the people who bought those blocks and put hangars on them appear as income from the aerodrome? No. (And as the Council casts about trying charge someone – anyone – fees, the latest proposal is to charge those ‘locals’ and not itinerants for aerodrome use. *sigh*)

For a while the ‘main’ windsock – the ubiquitous PAL illuminated jobbie from the Jurassic Period with the circle below for dumbbells/crosses – was jamming. The defect could easily have been repaired by the engineering firm less than 50 metres away. (I saw the defect ‘up close and personal’ – as I occasionally climbed a ladder to free the sock.) The Council instead decided to replace the whole pole/sock/lighting assembly at a cost of $10k plus (exact amount to be seen in the next set of figures made available to the AAC). I’m not criticising the people who made the decision to replace the whole thing. But if the Council’s really concerned about the costs of the aerodrome, why not repair at a 10th of the cost of the replacement? (And before someone pipes up with speculative reasons, please don’t…)

Then appeared some brand new ‘industrial strength’ mower tractor attachments. They do a fantastic job! Word on the grapevine is that they were purchased “for” the aerodrome and will be accounted as a cost to the aerodrome. But are they used to mow only the aerodrome? No. (But I stress here that I need to do some digging to find the facts, first hand.)

Then someone who’s been around here for a very long time, including when the aerodrome was given to Council by the Commonwealth, asked: “What happened to the million dollars given to Council at that time by the Commonwealth to fund the maintenance of the aerodrome?” Shrugs all ‘round. “Probably went into general revenue.” Oh.

The Council has plans to subdivide more blocks of original aerodrome land and sell them freehold in an ‘air park’ arrangement. That’s a good idea. But….. I asked where the proceeds of those new sales would go – now that Council understands that aerodromes cost money to maintain and those blocks of land, like the earlier ones sold, were given to Council as part of the aerodrome. Lots of humming and frowning. “Maybe we’ll use it to fund the development of land at […a location that has nothing to do with aviation..].” Oh.

The biggest surprise was how small the delta between measured annual expenses and measured income is: A number of thousands that can be counted on the fingers of one’s hands. The local community is getting an absolute bargain. It may not be appreciated by many in the community, but that’s the fact. (Nobody complained when the firefighting aircraft were positioned on standby and the area was under extreme threat of fire. When the wet set in, nobody was complaining about the aerial agricultural operations that could only be carried out from a sealed runway. Plenty of noise complaints which, fortunately, the Council dealt with on a common sense basis.)

I have said publicly, and will continue to say publicly, that the Council’s suggestion that YCTM aerodrome isn’t paying its own way is not true in fact. And that’s just on tawdry dollars in and out. I’m not suggesting corruption; I’m just stating that when expenditure and income are accounted for in the way Council accounts for YCTM, it is always going to look like it’s making a ‘loss’.

I don’t think YCTM is on its lonesome. I recently attended a fly in at an aerodrome where the local council was proposing to impose landing fees. I spoke to the local aeroclub president and went through the kinds of issues we’re dealing with at YCTM. And at one point he paused and said: “Hang on a sec’. Part of this aerodrome has been fenced off for agricultural use!” Best to start digging, old mate!

Some people in Council continue to be hell bent on trying to make up the on-paper shortfall in fees somehow but, as I keep telling them, the fees will cost more to collect than will be collected. That lesson has already been learned the really hard way at many other places. I'm resigned to watching Council learn the same lesson, despite being forewarned.

I’m going to conduct a simple test. I’m going to offer to relieve Council of the financial burden that YCTM has apparently become for it. I’m going offer to take the aerodrome land off Council’s hands, at the price Council paid for it, and take over responsibility for operating it and all associated costs. And so generous am I, that I won’t ask for $1million to fund maintenance. Does anyone believe my offer will be accepted?

In any event, Cootamundra is a great town in walking distance from the aerodrome. Please drop in and stay for a while. The good news is that Council is currently pursuing a proposal to impose aerodrome usage fees on us ratepaying locals, but not on visitors. So you’re welcome!
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Old 4th May 2022, 10:15
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You'll bring more money into the local economy therefore a greater economic benefit by dropping fees and having people want to stay the night, grabbing a pot and parmy, grabbing a cab each way to the airport etc
.
None of that pays for the airport though. It lines the pocket of the hotel owner, the publican, and the cab operator, all of whom are already in situ, and would be anyway if one or two GA through didn't come through.

It's a pleasure flying in countries that see aviation as critical infrastructure
It is seen as critical infrastructure in this country. That's why so many aerodromes operate at a loss. It's extremely rare to see one close.
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Old 4th May 2022, 10:27
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Read the reports to find the answer. The importance of small regional airports is widely recognised. The problem councils have is the cost, especially where there is no or little RPT based revenue. That is why landing fees are imposed. Locations like Temora benefit from the large number of vehicle based visitors to town for many reasons, including the museum. Visiting aircraft are small volume for most of the year.
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Old 4th May 2022, 12:04
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None of that pays for the airport though. It lines the pocket of the hotel owner, the publican, and the cab operator, all of whom are already in situ, and would be anyway if one or two GA through didn't come through.
'Lines the pocket' of the hotel owner, who employs a barmaid or two and a cleaner.

It's a pleasure flying in countries that see aviation as critical infrastructure
It is seen as critical infrastructure in this country. That's why so many aerodromes operate at a loss. It's extremely rare to see one close.
Operates at a loss, or provides a critical service to the community, especially in times of need:

- Clinics because doctors and nurses WILL NOT move to regional areas.
- Bushfire and Flood Relief.
- Medevac.

Charging an itinerant aircraft $20 to land is patently ridiculous, it does NOTHING to contribute aerodrome works, except to piss the itinerant off, make them choose another aerodrome to grab fuel and POSSIBLY spend the night.

Aerodromes aren't seen as critical infrastructure, apart from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane etc. They are seen as a hindrance and a money pit, that is until the Mayor's son, daughter or wife need a Kingair to Sydney for emergency medical treatment.

Money pit, unless the aerodromes are correctly accounted for in the manner that Clinton described above. The soft and passive corruption that Australia tolerates will never allow that accounting to occur of course.
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Old 4th May 2022, 22:22
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Good post Clinton
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Old 5th May 2022, 06:06
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Locations like Temora benefit from the large number of vehicle based visitors to town for many reasons, including the museum. Visiting aircraft are small volume for most of the year
Let me take the liberty of tweaking that for you.

Temora benefits from a large number of vehicle based visitors for many reasons, mainly the museum’s air displays. The air display days provide the perfect excuse for the bike club and the car club to organise a rally to Temora, and for other travellers to visit and stay there. They don’t rally to visit and stay at Wallendbeen or Stockingbingal or Barmedman or Ardelethan (nice though all those towns may be).

And most of those Temora air display activities constitute … general aviation. Most of the maintenance is done by volunteer maintenance engineers with …. general aviation backgrounds. New general aviation businesses have been established at Temora.

I get it that, in Australia, it’s convenient for those in the bureaucracy to downplay the economic value of general aviation by perpetuating the impression that general aviation just a diminishing bunch of whinging private pilots at the margins. But fire fighting is general aviation. Medevac is general aviation. Search and rescue is general aviation. ‘Crop dusting’ is general aviation.

Where do the pilots who fly those aircraft start out? Where do the engineers who keep those aircraft come from? We drive small flying schools into the ground with charges and regulatory over-kill, and charge rents and fees that deter investment in other aviation-related businesses, such that many aerodromes are ghost towns most of the time, just begging to be turned into warehouses and DFOs. We can bring in pilots and engineers from overseas on visas, so we should just get on with it.

What a lucky country.
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Old 5th May 2022, 06:19
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EDIT: I don't know why 'Prune automatically embeds a FB post - I can't do anything about it sorry. And I know the bottom link is the thread title. 'Prune - again - automatically parses the title instead of the actual URL like the other one. NFI why...

= = =

Speaking of landing fees, I saw on FB that Upper Hunter Council has their new Operational Plan out for public comment, which incorporates the landing (and other) fee structure for Scone Airport - Pages 323 & 324 have the airport fees... Tell you what, you wouldn't want to be going there for a weekend! ~$25 landing fee and around $75 in parking if you stayed for 48 hours with an average bug-smasher.. $100 before you've spent a dollar in town I think is pretty pi$$ poor.

You might also care to note that Upper Hunter Council also provide - at no charge -
only a few minutes walk from the center of town, complete with a dump point, for any Grey Nomads. Again, why is one lot of tourists actively supported with no-cost facilities yet others aren't?

For anyone that wants to put their two bob in, either email [email protected] or go via snail-mail to: General Manager, PO Box 208, Scone NSW 2337. Here's what I'm putting in, so feel free to copy, paste and tweak it as required - but for fuxake put something in to try to put a stop to these ongoing bloody fees. It only takes one Council to abolish landing fees for private fliers that'll in turn provide an example to others.

I am writing to oppose the proposed fee structure for Scone Memorial Airport, as contained in Council's proposed DPOP.

It is observed Council proposes to carry over casual landing and parking fees for visiting aircraft, with slight increases commensurate with inflation.

I cannot support landing or fees for light "general aviation" (GA) aircraft, that is, the type often owned and flown by visiting private pilots and that typically weigh less than 3,500Lbs / 1,500Kg. These aircraft would be subject to a landing fee in the $20-25 range for each landing in addition to a parking fee of approximately $75 should they spend two days in Scone before returning home leading to over $100 in "Council fees" just to visit town as a tourist.

It is noted Scone does not currently have metered parking for residents or visitors to town, not any toll or "entry fee" to town for visitors arriving by road, such as the 'Grey Nomads" in their 4-Tonne Landcruiser towing a 3.5-Tonne caravan, indeed Upper Hunter Shire Council even provides camping and sewage dump point facilities completely free of charge to these visitors, to encourage such tourists to the region, and I applaud Council for doing so.

However, your attention is drawn to commentary on pilots forums PPRuNe1 and RecreationalFlying2 where visiting pilots clearly state they actively avoid airports that charge a landing fee, either through being made to feel unwelcome when compared to caravanners, or finding 'better value' in visiting a town whose airport is free to use.

When viewed against airports such as Temora or Narromine, it is observed neither of these airports charge fees, yet both offer far superior facilities than that found at Scone, ie Temora has multiple runways, their Aviation Museum has child-friendly play areas, there is accommodation available on the airport for pilots and their passengers in addition to the Museum itself being superior to Hunter Warbirds in terms of facilities, physical size and the provision flying days, as well as the number and nature of aircraft on display. Narromine, like Temora, offers more flexibility in terms of runways, has both a gliding club and aero club on the field as well as an aviation museum and accommodation located on the airport.

When considering how we may attract visitors to both Hunter Warbirds or Scone itself, who naturally have a choice of what town they visit, it is noteworthy to consider that for a pilot taking off from Bankstown, Scone is 25 minutes closer than both Temora or Narromine (using a cruise speed of 140Knots), however, the addition of landing and parking fees renders Scone the more expensive town to visit, especially when one considers that once you land at Scone, there are few transport options into town, unless you are already aware of the taxi's operating hours, or Upper Hunter Rideshare, you will be forced to walk several km into town.

In short, the extension of landing and parking fees for visiting aircraft renders Scone Airport both uncompetitive in a financial sense, and unwelcoming in a tourist sense, to visiting recreational pilots and their passengers. However, it must be noted that I do not oppose, and in fact actively support, landing and parking fees for aircraft that are registered to a commercial entity, for they are using a Council asset in the course of their business and as such, should be expected to reimburse Council. But for aircraft below 3,500Lbs and registered to an individual, I urge Council to scrap the landing and parking fees as a way of attracting more visitors to the region. What little money Council would lose in landing fees from such an endeavour would be more than made up by the increase in income to local businesses.

In closing, I draw your attention to Cr R. Campbell's comments from the December 2020 Ordinary Council Meeting where he said emphatically stated "We want this airport to be used much much more in the future, and if we're going to just, just do it uh and then just think we haven't had a strike here since whatever it was we're looking back, let's look to the future, we want as many planes as can come in more planes in the future that's going to make it the usage of the airport much more worthwhile."

Abolishing landing fees for privately-owned GA aircraft would go a long way towards achieving this, with the attendant benefits for the town as a whole.

Sincerely,
The KRviator.

1. Unfriendliest airport for GA in Australia?
2. https://www.recreationalflying.com/t...-needed-please

Last edited by KRviator; 5th May 2022 at 06:20. Reason: =
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Old 5th May 2022, 08:12
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I’d suggest also trying to point out that the cost of attempting to collect the fees will outweigh the fees collected. Lots of councils have worked that out, the very hard way. (Air Services worked out that it cost more to chase chicken feed airways charges from myriad intermittent users in light aircraft than it cost to send out and pursue the invoices, so gave up trying to chase any user for charges under $500 (if my memory serves me correctly.) And that’s an organisation which is unambiguously out to make a profit.)

One of the reasons the Council operating YTCM decided not to take up Avdata’s proposed system is that I explained how it worked. When “Alpha Bravo Charlie” is sent an Avdata invoice charging a fee for use of YCTM and no fee is paid, it’s Council that is owed the money and Council that has to pursue the debt and prove that ABC used YCTM and enforce the charge. (Solution: Pay money to set up security cameras! There’s ABC, caught dead to rights. Great! Now commence recovery action for $12.50 and commence proceedings if it’s not paid. …)

Better paradigm and message: An aerodrome is a very valuable community asset because it provides very useful capabilities for the local community. Fund and nurture it on that basis. And if the occasional private aircraft pilot and friends pulls in and visits the town, that’s icing on the cake. Maybe the pilot will one day fly an aircraft that puts out a local fire that was threatening your home, fertilises the crops on your farm, transports you or one of your loved ones to life saving medical treatment or deters and defeats people who’d like to invade and kill you. Or maybe the pilot did that in a previous life and now just wants to enjoy flying without being hit with a bunch of parking tickets.

BTW: The council operating YCTM also gets income from the throughput of the Avgas bowser…

Last edited by Clinton McKenzie; 5th May 2022 at 08:23.
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Old 6th May 2022, 07:26
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Originally Posted by Lead Balloon View Post
.
n. It looks like it’s ‘only’ USD25 million for aircraft 10,000kg MTOW or less. O
What's with these guys not accepting good old AU$??
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Old 6th May 2022, 07:50
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The people who come up with these ideas probably have MBAs from a US university. Smartest guys in the room.
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Old 6th May 2022, 09:53
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An aerodrome is a very valuable community asset because it provides very useful capabilities for the local community. Fund and nurture it on that basis
They do. That's why it's still there.
Maybe the pilot will one day fly an aircraft that puts out a local fire that was threatening your home, fertilises the crops on your farm, transports you or one of your loved ones to life saving medical treatment or deters and defeats people who’d like to invade and kill you. Or maybe the pilot did that in a previous life
And thus has never had to pay a landing fee himself. The invoices got sent to the boss. Who paid them.
And if the occasional private aircraft pilot and friends pulls in and visits the town
but is actually far more likely just to refuel and leave.
and now just wants to enjoy flying
But that involves infrastructure that someone else has to provide and maintain. If I want to enjoy golf, I have to pay to use the golf course. If I want to enjoy car racing, I have to pay to use the track. But of course, flying should be free. Why? What makes your hobby so special compared to all the others people enjoy?
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Old 6th May 2022, 10:14
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Golf courses and car race tracks have yet to prove themselves very valuable as pieces of defence capability, in their own right.

But I've tried. A wise mentor of mine advised me that you can lead a horse to water but you don't have to suck through its arse to make it drink.
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Old 6th May 2022, 21:35
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What is the justification for use of the aerodrome at no cost?
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Old 6th May 2022, 22:18
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The same as you use a road for 'nothing.' That's right, it's not nothing is it: rego, fuel excise, consolidated revenue, fines, council rates. You don't think you pay enough already? Add the bullshit of 'user pays' yet another tax.

Of course 'user pays' is not applied to EVERYTHING is it, otherwise you'd be paying for the kiddies to use local park facilities. I don't use the park facilities the indignant say, I don't have children the righteous say, they should pay, my council rates shouldn't be used for those facility repairs and how about the bludgers that come in from other council areas and use them????

User pays bullshit. Universally applied to whatever service is 'provided' that they can get away with applying it to.
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Old 7th May 2022, 01:02
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It is so typical of bureaucrats, isn’t it tossbag?

Private pilots are people who’ve apparently spent their lives successfully avoiding paying any kind of tax or charge and not making any other contribution to public infrastructure, now selfishly using aerodromes at ‘no cost’.

What is the justification for use of a primary school at ‘no cost’? Where do poor people get off, sending their children to get a ‘free’ education? Maybe it’s because we’re supposedly an advanced civilisation where education has an intrinsic value measured not just in dollars. It’s funded as a public good, out of the common wealth.

(I know: Private aviation has no intrinsic value. The skills and knowledge and capability are completely worthless to society. It’s just self-indulgence.)

The ALOP aerodromes were our (Commonwealth taxpayer’s) land given to local councils with a large wadge of our (Commonwealth taxpayer’s) money to be salted away to fund upkeep. Councils used it for other stuff. And that’s our fault, apparently.

I invested at YCTM because the Council had an enlightened understanding of the real value of the aerodrome. I pay rates. I spend lots in the local area. There’s a throughput charge for the Avgas bowser that goes to Council. And now Council wants to charge me a new fee because I’m using the aerodrome at ‘no cost’!

My preference is that Council charge only us ‘locals’ new fees because I do not want to deter visitors to YCTM. I want as many people as possible to use YTCM at ‘no cost’, because I know the real value of private aviation. And I’ll demonstrate to Council that which I’ve told them over and over again: The cost of collecting the fees will outweigh the fees collected. I’ll just reduce my Avgas purchases at YCTM and fill up at YTEM instead, such that the throughput charge I would otherwise have happily paid at YCTM outweighs the new fees I’m charged. Even bean-counting bureaucrats should be able to understand the folly. (There's a metaphor about using honey rather than vinegar to achieve a desired outcome.)
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Old 7th May 2022, 02:57
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Golf courses and car race tracks have yet to prove themselves very valuable as pieces of defence capability, in their own right.
That's a pretty long bow to be reaching for, and a pretty spurious rationale as to why you should get to use it for free. It that's the best you can come up with, you're clutching at straws.
The ALOP aerodromes were our (Commonwealth taxpayer’s) land given to local councils with a large wadge of our (Commonwealth taxpayer’s) money to be salted away to fund upkeep
You do know how ALOP worked right? The Govt used to provide to local councils 50% of the funding required to maintain aerodromes in the Plan. Then between roughly 1988-1993, the Govt began unilaterally transferring their responsibilities 100% to the local councils, with provisos as to continuing operation as an aerodrome and restrictions on land use etc. the "large wadge" ($78M spread over 234 aerodromes) of taxpayers money was in the form of grants sufficient to offset operating losses (see, it was recognised at the time they were bottomless money pits - which is why the Feds wanted out) during the transfer of ownership and were generally considered sufficient to cover the net losses for the next 10 years. So essentially, that "large wadge" ran out 20 years ago, and councils have been covering 100% of the losses ever since. The grants were never expected to cover costs in perpetuity. If the council blew the funds immediately on other things within their remit, then they've been paying for the airport for 30 years out of their own pockets. So I don't buy into this ALOP hand-wringing. It's ancient history, and it's effects were over years ago.
This is from a Parliamentary Committee roughly 10 years after ALOP ceased discussing the effects: Aviation Report They knew they were in trouble 20 years ago.
Private aviation has no intrinsic value. The skills and knowledge and capability are completely worthless to society. It’s just self-indulgence.
In it's most literal sense, yes. I don't know why you think society owes you something, or you have stepped outside the realms of ordinary, just because you can fly.

Last edited by Traffic_Is_Er_Was; 7th May 2022 at 03:10.
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