Small Airport Businesses to Trump: Your Florida Visits Hurt

Airspace around Mar-a-Lago has been shut down 3 weekends in a row
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 17, 2017 7:32 PM CST
Small Airport Businesses to Trump: Your Florida Visits Hurt
Jorge Gonzalez of Skywords Advertising is seen with his Piper Super Cub at the hangar he rents at Lantana Airport in Florida. Gonzalez said he might have to shutter his business if President Trump continues to visit Palm Beach and close the air space on weekends.   (Joe Cavaretta/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP, File)

President Trump wants small businesses to thrive, but his frequent Mar-a-Lago visits have flight schools and other companies at a nearby airport in a financial nosedive, the AP reports. The Secret Service closed Lantana Airport on Friday for the third straight weekend because of the president's return to his Palm Beach resort, meaning its maintenance companies, a banner-flying business, and another two dozen businesses are also shuttered, costing them thousands of dollars at the year's busiest time. The banner-flying company says it has lost more than $40,000 in contracts already. The airport is about 6 miles southwest of Mar-a-Lago, well within the 10-mile circle around the resort that's closed to most private planes when Trump is in town.

The Lantana owners are pushing compromises they say will ensure Trump's security while keeping their businesses open. They involve letting pilots fly in a closely monitored corridor headed away from the resort until they are outside a 10-mile ban around Mar-a-Lago and a 30-mile zone where flying lessons are restricted. Pilots, planes, and cargo would undergo preflight screening by TSA agents. The airport and its 28 businesses have an economic impact of about $27 million annually and employ about 200 people full-time, many of them making about $30,000 a year. They don't get paid when the airport is closed. The airport is already losing a helicopter company, which is moving rather than deal with the closures. That will cost it $440,000 in annual rent and fuel sales. (More Mar-a-Lago stories.)

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