Oklahoma's small airports struggling after Sept. 11

Sunday, February 3rd 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Small airports in Oklahoma are struggling financially five months after the Sept. 11 attacks, and some are not even selling enough fuel to pay for daily operations.

Fuel sales decreased significantly in the months after the attacks, said Bill Miller, director of the Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission.

``It has hurt,'' he said.

At Thomas P. Stafford Airport in Weatherford, fuel sales have not recovered from the terrorist attacks and the airport might have to ask the city for money, said airport board chairman Ken Reid.

The airport sold 420 gallons of fuel in the first two weeks of January, down from the usual 3,000 gallons.

Reid said many pilots are not flying their planes, and that more people are visiting the Thomas P. Stafford Air and Space Museum than using the airport.

``I suspect it will take two years or more to recover,'' Reid said.

Airport board members will decide this month what type of help they will request from the city, he said. A contractor runs the city-owned airport independently from the city budget.

Miller said two bills pending in Congress would provide grants or loans to small general aviation airports affected by the terrorist attacks.

Tracy Yoder, Clinton Municipal Airport manager, said the airport was affected by the economy before it was affected by the terrorist attacks. Air traffic is slightly less than normal for this time of year, she said.

``I think it's just the economy,'' Yoder said. ``People just can't afford it.''

Sustained flight training has helped Clinton's airport and Stillwater Regional Airport.

Gary Johnson, Stillwater airport director, said there also has been an increase in corporate flying that has kept the airport financially stable.

``We're probably one of the fortunate ones to have sustained flight activity,'' he said.

But he said he might need state assistance to meet new security measures.