MAC proposes a long-range plan with short notice
Southside Pride received notice at 4:01 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 6, of a community Open House at Nokomis Community Center at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 8, to discuss the Metropolitan Airport Comm-ission’s (MAC’s) long-term comprehensive plan. At such short notice it was virtually impossible for us to attend the meeting and completely impossible to notify readers in the Nokomis community. It is hard not to come to the conclusion that the MAC doesn’t want to provide adequate notice or publicize these meetings because the MAC really doesn’t want anyone to attend.
We asked Jim Spensley, the South Metro Airport Action Council president, what he thought of the MSP 2030 Plan being promoted by the MAC.
Spensley: It is of little value. Instead the MAC should be reviewing and revising its capital improvements plans for 2010 and 2020 in light of current use, new economic facts and unresolved operational issues in hand.
Southside Pride: Why do you think the MAC is doing the long-range plan with 10 years to go on their 2020 plan?
Spensley: MAC’s real purpose may be to extend the planning horizon and the MAC’s authority. In 1996, the Legislature made a deal with Northwest Airlines tying MSP expansion to airline jobs and commerce through 2020. Among the things that have changed in the local economy, the Delta/NWA merger and subsequent reorganization may be very significant.
Southside Pride: What should we be looking at?
Spensley: The State should be reviewing safe capacity, requiring more open governance at MSP, and judging how well MSP has served since expansion to
support Metropolitan economic growth. The Legislature wanted a 25 percent “capacity” increase by 2020. That morphed into an unwise and unintended doubling of the Delta/NWA hub, including more gates, larger blocks and far more operations per hour than were considered the safe maximum in 1996. The Legislature should note that today, and intended for 2020, MSP will have
fewer local passengers per flight, far fewer airline and local supplier jobs (in part due to the unfulfilled jobs and air service promises by NWA). The Met Council should investigate how economic growth has been impacted. Cities should be reviewing the adverse impacts of increased airport noise and pollution. Citizens increasingly suspect government of collusion with
big business or corruption by lobbies, PACs and campaign contributions. Former regulators take jobs as industry executives (and vice-versa).
The major airlines plan is for continuing the hub-and-spoke system and their de
facto market and seat supply cartel. MSP expansion after 2020 under pretty much the same governance, influencers and assumptions are not about economics, airline services or fares, or clean and safe operations; it is all about just maintaining and benefiting the status quo.