Some businesses frustrated by presidential flight restrictions

PITTSTOWN, N.J. (WPVI) -- As of last Friday, private planes were banned from taking flight in a 10-mile area surrounding President Donald Trump's golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, and there are tight restrictions on airports, as far as 30 miles from there.

Though the restrictions may be temporary, those who make their living by flying say the economic impact may be felt for some time.

Small airport owners are being clobbered by these restrictions, and they're looking for some relief. Some have already lost half their business, while others have temporarily shut down completely.

On a sunny day planes would normally be flying in and out of Alexandria Airport in Pittstown, Hunterdon County. But the runway is silent.

Temporary flight restrictions in effect while President Trump vacations in Bedminster have turned the airport into a ghost town.

"People don't want to go to a place for business where they can't count on that they can take off tomorrow," said Alexandria Airport owner Linda Castner.

Airports within the 30 mile zone around Bedminster can do limited takeoffs and landings, but flight training, skydiving, gliders and sightseeing flights are prohibited.

"It's killing some businesses and it's hurting the rest of them. It's hurting those airports that have restricted fuel sales. Their bread-and-butter is selling fuel," said Bill Leavens of the Mid-Atlantic Aviation Coalition.

Small airport owners say four years of a Trump presidency could put them out of business. Others, like Skydive Jersey, a jump school at the airport, may not even make it until the end of the month.

"August is our busiest time of the year. It's absolutely. We normally are booked out weeks in advance but right now, even today I had to turn away a ton of people," said Tony Mabrey of Skydive Jersey.

Linda Castner is also concerned about the danger and cost of the F-15 fighter jets that go after planes intruding into the restricted airspace.

It's just a small speck in the sky, but you can hear the thunder of one of those jets as it forced a private plane to the ground on Sunday at Alexandria.

Castner and others want the feds to ease restrictions on local airports and prescreen pilots so they can fly when restrictions are in effect as they do near Washington DC.

"They gave them the waiver to do it. They vetted the pilots there. Why can't that be done here," asked Castner.

Castner says it's galling that President Trump's golf club thrives while some aviation businesses are on the brink of closing.

"Why is that business allowed to continue and ours and all those around us are not," she said.

Congressman Leonard Lance has written to the Secret Service asking it to loosen restrictions in the area. But his office says it's gotten no response.
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