Claim: Erie Airport Creates Unfriendly Environment for GA

GA pilots at KERI claim that the airport is trying to drive them out as commercial traffic increases. Erie International Airport

General Aviation pilots in Erie, Pennsylvania, are up in arms after they say the airport is treating them unfairly in an effort to push away general aviation traffic from the Erie International Airport (KERI). The Erie Regional Airport Authority recently implemented a $2,000 annual licensing fee as well as insurance requirements of $1 million for aircraft mechanics, costs that will be passed on to pilots, Erie News Now reports.

The local pilots say they feel that the rules were implemented to drive away GA as commercial operations increase at KERI. The airport saw a spike in commercial passenger travel by nearly 12 percent in 2018 compared with the year before, according to Erie News Now. And the commercial traffic at KERI will continue to grow. American Airlines is adding routes to Charlotte, North Carolina, and Chicago in May.

“It’s my opinion and the opinion of other people on the airfield that Mr. Martin and other folks on the board would just rather see general aviation go away,” said local pilot Craig Damford. The pilots also claim that the fuel cost at KERI is 30 to 50 cents more expensive than the prices at nearby airports, and that snow doesn’t get plowed in the general aviation areas.

Erie airport’s executive director Derek Martin said the new rules have nothing to do with driving away GA, but rather were implemented to comply with federal regulations. Martin took over the executive director position in August and claims previous administrators were not following regulations.

Pia Bergqvist joined FLYING in December 2010. A passionate aviator, Pia started flying in 1999 and quickly obtained her single- and multi-engine commercial, instrument and instructor ratings. After a decade of working in general aviation, Pia has accumulated almost 3,000 hours of flight time in nearly 40 different types of aircraft.

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