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Long-Awaited Reimbursement Program For D.C.-Area GA Businesses Announced


April 10 , 2007 — Almost six years after 9/11, and long after the airline industry received billions of bailout dollars, the U.S. Department of Transportation issued a final rule Monday (April 9) authorizing up to $17 million to reimburse general aviation business owners at five Washington, D.C.-area airports for financial losses incurred while they were shut down by the Federal government.

Business entities eligible for reimbursement funds include those associated with the so-called Maryland 3 airports College Park, Maryland; Potomac Airfield, Fort Washington, Maryland; and Washington Executive/Hyde Field, Clinton, Maryland; as well as Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport; and Washington D.C. South Capitol Street Heliport.

These airports and the businesses that operate at them have been decimated by the restrictions placed on arrival and departure operations. Unlike the airlines, GA operations were prohibited entirely at these facilitates for an extended period of time.

At the urging of Congress, the DOT conducted a study in 2005 study to determine estimated losses at the five airports. The study found that between September 12, 2001, and January 23, 2004, GA businesses lost about $10.4 million, including more than $6 million alone at Signature Flight Services at Reagan National.

The final rule provides up to $17 million to reimburse GA businesses for their 9/11-related losses, but only $5 million on a pro-rated basis to fixed-base operators and the GA ground support service providers located at College Park, Potomac, and Washington Executive/Hyde Field. The rule also requires an independent audit before issuing any funds, and recipients must release the government from any further claims.

Conversely, air carriers (airlines) received $4.6 billion through the Air Transportation Safety and System Stabilization Act, which was passed on September 22, 2001.

?These funds are a step in the right direction and recognize the considerable economic hardships government restrictions have had, and continue to have, on these businesses,? said Earl Lawrence, EAA vice president of industry and regulatory affairs. ?But it is disappointing that it has taken so long and that the procedures are so difficult for those affected.?

James R. Dann of the DOT?s Office of General Counsel recommended that would-be claimants utilize professional accounting services to ensure applications are in order to expedite the process.

The deadline to apply for benefits is June 9, 2007, or 60 days after publication in the Federal Register.

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