From “Bozeman airport sets passenger record in 2012″ Bozeman Daily Chronicle, 12 January 2013: “General aviation accounted for 76 percent of the airport’s traffic. Passenger and cargo airlines included 18 percent, with corporate jets at 6 percent.”
But this isn’t the whole story. By the FAA’s definition, “General Aviation” is all activity not airline, military, nor government. Corporate jets are also General Aviation. Add 6% to that original 76% to kick the number up to 82%. Also lost in these figures is the fact that “Passenger and cargo airlines” includes cargo activity defined as General Aviation. How much of that 18% is GA activity – 3%?
The Chronicle quote should read, “General aviation accounted for OVER 82% of the airport’s traffic.”
…No surprise! This is a fact we at Paragon have been touting for years. Airplanes are not flown, — nor is flight safety advanced — by passengers. Pilots operate aircraft, deliver passengers to their destinations, consume fuel, fight weather, and deal with airport infrastructure. General Aviation pilots are the largest body of operators at Gallatin Field. Yet, GA gets no respect by the airport’s independent, unaccountable regulating Authority. GA has no standing advisory chair on the board. Decisions are made first and foremost to promote airline growth. The national aerospace system is “first-come-first-served,” yet at Gallatin Field GA is discriminated against as airliners are often given priority over GA aircraft.
Whenever the Airport Authority argues that “general aviation does not pay its way at the field,” it must be reminded that GA did not want, nor do we need need, much of the infrastructure which has driven up operating costs for the airport. It is well past time that General Aviation is respected for its contributions at the field, and has a permanent voice on the Gallatin Airport Authority board.