Misuse of Airport Land Acquired Through Federal Assistance

LCD-80-84: Published: Aug 13, 1980. Publicly Released: Aug 13, 1980.

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A review was undertaken to determine whether public airport lands, acquired by direct grants of funds and by donations of federal real property, are properly controlled and used in accordance with deed restrictions and applicable laws.

Many sponsors at the airports reviewed were using land acquired with federal assistance for other than airport purposes. The nonairport uses involved revenue-producing activities. Long-term leases of 20 to 40 years exist, and in some cases, renewal options can extend nonairport use for an additional 60 years. Nonairport land uses included: an industrial park complex, private residences, recreation areas, municipal government facilities, other commercial businesses, and agriculture. Although the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has established a program for monitoring the development and use of these properties, it has had a very low priority and FAA field offices have not implemented it. FAA has failed to ensure that adequate staffing and other resources are provided to conduct the program. Similar problems and questionable land uses have been reported to FAA management repeatedly over the past decade.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: To curb the unauthorized use of federally obligated airport land, the Secretary of Transportation should require the Administrator of FAA to determine the extent of improper and unauthorized uses of land at federally obligated airports and encourage airport sponsors to take corrective actions as needed. If the sponsors are unwilling to do so, FAA should reclaim donated land that is not being used or developed for the purpose conveyed in and in accordance with the conveyance agreement. Further, FAA should obtain reimbursement or ensure proper reinvestment by an airport sponsor in other airport improvements where land purchased with grant assistance is not being used appropriately. To increase program effectiveness, the Secretary of Transportation should direct FAA headquarters to become more actively involved in the control and administration of the program by requiring its regional offices to: (1) follow established program policies and procedures; (2) evaluate program needs and provide appropriate staff resources to carry out an effective monitoring and enforcement program; and (3) establish and maintain accurate, complete, and current records to document airport lands with a Federal interest and the related compliance status of airport sponsors.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation


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