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Let me be clear: I am not proposing moving, curtailing or limiting MSP. Instead, I’m suggesting that we solve the aviation problems that are sure to grow by using all the assets available in the state.
This is not a new thought, so why does it never happen? In large part it’s because of the disjointed way we plan and govern aviation in Minnesota. We have an Airports Commission that is well-endowed with revenues from parking, retail and gates at MSP. While the commission has deep resources to plan and attract flights to the metro area, the rest of the state’s aviation strategy and marketing is left to those small airports and to a small, slightly funded part of the Minnesota Department of Transportation.
No wonder we concentrate more and more of our air traffic over metro neighborhoods while Greater Minnesota fights for aviation crumbs. It should gall those in Greater Minnesota to have so little focus on growing their own airports, and in turn their areas’ economic futures, while every time they fly out of MSP they pay fees that create more concentration of traffic in the metro area.
There is a better way to do this. Reconstitute the Metropolitan Airports Commission as the Minnesota Aviation Commission. Fund it with fees from MSP and other airports, but mandate that it plan the aviation future for the whole state.
We have in front of us a massive expansion of MSP that will have an enormous impact on the flights we have, the fares we pay and the economic growth around the state for a generation. Aren’t the consequences large enough for us to ask these big questions first?
The Opinion section is produced by the Editorial Department to foster discussion about key issues. The Editorial Board represents the institutional voice of the Star Tribune and operates independently of the newsroom.