By Matthew Remynse, President, Airport Association of North Dakota
I think it’s important to reflect on the exciting year the Airport Association of North Dakota (AAND) had in 2019 while at the same time looking into 2020.
The 2019 legislative session has to be the highlight of 2019; together, AAND and the North Dakota Aeronautics Commission were able to secure $20 million in funding for airport infrastructure projects through Operation Prairie Dog. This is a great success for airports and will no doubt help with our infrastructure needs moving forward. In addition to the $20 million from Prairie Dog, an additional $20 million was also secured for the runway projects in Dickinson and Watford City. In addition to the funding bill, AAND testified against a bill that would take away an airport’s ability to use the quick-take method in an eminent domain proceeding and on a bill that would allow commercial airports to contract with Transportation Network Companies (TNC). The AAND, along with several other organizations, were successful in defeating the eminent domain bill, but unfortunately couldn’t get the TNC bill passed.
During the session, AAND participated in Aviation Day at the Capitol. Led by the North Dakota Aviation Council, Aviation Day brought together several aviation organizations from throughout the state. Together, we were able to promote the benefits of our industry to legislators, while also describing the needs of the industry. As in the past, AAND held its legislative social which allowed our airports managers to speak with legislators about the value of our airports and again, our needs. Overall, the session, Aviation Day, and the social were a great success!
2019 bought a new member to the AAND board; Rodney Schaaf from the Bowman Airport is representing District 5, which is the southwest and south central portions of the state. Rodney has stepped into this role effortlessly.
In 2019, AAND was able to sponsor a snow removal training class at the Grand Forks Airport. The sponsorship reduced the registration fee for North Dakota participants. The AAND also provided funds to the Gerald K. Olson Memorial Scholarship. Chris Zubke was selected for the 2019 scholarship and noted that the scholarship has given him confidence and will help him move forward with his airport management degree at the University of North Dakota.
This fall, many North Dakota airport managers traveled to Aberdeen, SD to participate in the FAA Fall Conference. The conference had a lot of good information related to updated FAA policies and procedures. I’m glad the conference is going again and was happy to see all the participation from North Dakota.
Moving forward to 2020, AAND and its members are looking forward to a fun and educational Upper Midwest Aviation Symposium. At that time, we’ll be developing our goals for the 2021 session, electing our officers for the year, and identifying opportunities to help our membership and grow our industry.
As we start the new year, I hope 2020 is just as exciting and educational for aviation in North Dakota as the past year. I look forward to seeing everyone at the symposium! Remember, always check the NOTAMs.