Dec 11, 2018

A newly established dialogue between city officials and general aviation (GA) stakeholders at Dallas Love Field (DAL) helped both sides reach an equitable agreement over upcoming landing fees at the busy North Texas airport.

The Dallas City Council approved a new landing fee ordinance for DAL last April. In addition to generating revenue to support airport maintenance and upgrades, city officials said the new fee was intended to direct GA aircraft to nearby Dallas Executive Airport (RBD).

The ordinance was scheduled to go into effect July 1; however, airport tenants and other GA users at DAL had not been consulted about the new fees, nor the methodology behind them. A coalition of aviation groups, led by the Love Field Pilots Association (LFPA) and including NBAA, engaged with the city airport director on the matter and pointed out a key discrepancy in the ordinance that also delayed its implementation.

“Initially, the airport intended to charge GA users the new landing fee on top of existing fuel-flowage fees, although the city code explicitly states the two cannot be charged simultaneously,” explained LFPA President Sean Lynch, who also operates DAL-based Engine Assurance Program. “The city attorney agreed with our interpretation that anyone paying a landing fee cannot be ‘double-taxed’ with the fuel-flowage fee.”

Under the revised landing fees agreement effective Jan. 1, 2019, Part 135 operators will be assessed a fee of $2.75 per 1,000 lbs of an aircraft’s certified maximum landing weight (MLW) and Part 91 users will be charged $5.15/1,000 lbs MLW.

“Once the city recognized those paying such landing fees could not also be charged the fuel-flowage fee, fee they have been assessed up until now, the result was an ‘effective rate’ for those operators who buy significant amounts of fuel at the airport that is actually closer to the Part 135 operators’ rate,” said aviation attorney David Norton with Shackelford, Bowen, McKinley & Norton, LLP, who served as outside counsel for LFPA.

Fees will be billed directly through Vector Airport Systems, LLC, and will be reassessed after one year, based on data gathered throughout 2019. Discussions will also continue between the city and airport users over other aspects of the fee agreement, including financial contributions from airport lease agreements that weren’t considered under the current ordinance.

“Throughout this process, the GA community always acknowledged its obligation to pay its fair share to maintain Love Field,” noted NBAA Senior Director, Regional Programs and Southwest Regional Representative Stephen Hadley. “While this compromise isn’t perfect and other issues remain, we’ve definitely seen a significant step forward in the relationship between the city and DAL tenants and operators.”

NBAA joined with the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association and the National Air Transport Association in supporting LFPA in its efforts to preserve fair and reasonable access to DAL.