Private Aviation fears new Shreveport Airport Authority standards

General aviators fear new rules

SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - General aviation is a valued part of aviation across the country. But some say they're feeling almost unwanted in Shreveport.

Several people say it's just a feeling they've had since tough new conditions were put in place for leaseholders. There are also some proposed penalties that have drawn the most attention.

Local pilot and aviation businessman, Marty Walford, is not happy there's no longer automatic lease renewals for the land at the downtown airport. It's where the hanger he owns now stands.

Walford is even more worried about new punishments suggested for violating minimum standards, like mowing the grass. The first strike is a warning.

"The second time, that airport employee can fine you $500, " added Walford.

He says the stakes get even higher after that. "And the third time they will consider your lease in default."

Walford says the suggested policy would ignore due process. "You can't just arbitrarily have an employee fine someone or potentially take away their property rights."

This former city councilman suggests having the council approve or reject the proposed penalty changes, not the airport board.

But Shreveport Airport Authority Spokesman Mark Crawford says that three-strike policy would actually be much more fair than the current policy.

Under the current lease agreements, the lease can be canceled. Crawford says they have just never chosen to do so.

"A lot of the airports, like the rule is if you're in violation, like you're just done, the lease is voided," added Crawford.

Crawford also bristled at the suggestion any lease holders are being forced out. The airport authority board just approved 16 leases last week.

There is a waiting list of 65 potential clients wanting to lease one of the roughly 160 hangers at both airports combined.

"For many years now, the downtown airport has not been financially self-sufficient. And so we're making the changes that are necessary to make sure that airport is financially self-sufficient which is an FAA requirement," concluded Crawford.

For his part, Walford did not say whether he would ever take legal action if they terminated his lease.

However, he recalls showing the three-strike policy to an attorney, who promptly laughed and then offered to do the case pro bono.

He and others just hope it doesn't come to that.

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