History of the landing fee issue
On June 9th, the City Council asked staff to investigate landing fees as a means to help close the huge gap between
its revenues and expenses caused by the COVID virus pandemic. TAA immediately issued an alert to the pilot community.
Staff had clearly been researching this for some time. In a
memo, dated June 10, they proposed three options
for fixed-wing aircraft only:
- Do nothing
- Charge fees for transient fixed-wing aircraft only (net income $261,000 per year)
- Charge fees for both transient and based fixed-wing aircraft (net income $386,000 per year)
At the Council meeting on June 16, staff presented their memo and the City Council was deluged with over 50 letters
from our flight schools, airport businesses and Torrance pilots--all opposed to landing fees. As a result, Council
decided to send the issue to Airport Commission for study. The Airport Commission has suspended meetings due to the
pandemic restrictions, but it will come up eventually and a recommendation will be returned to Council for a decision.
This landing fee proposal has some obvious problems:
- Helicopters were not included! This raises clear discrimination issues.
- It assumes no change in operations levels from current values. No area flight schools permit operations at Santa Monica Airport
and most transient pilots shun the airport because of their landing fees. Torrance would also see these type of operations go to ZERO.
- It assumes our current flight schools would remain at Torrance. One major flight school (which accounts for about one-third of Torrance Airport operations)
has stated it would leave the airport if landing fees are instituted. Other schools would likely follow suit or close.
- A major aircraft sales activity, which maintains assembly and test operations at another area airport, would also likely
move, taking its sales tax contribution with them.
- Many of the employees of these businesses will move with these businesses--taking with them their rent payments and
other local purchases.
- Some Torrance-based pilots will move their aircraft to other local airport which do not charge landing fees--taking their
hangar rent payments with them.
TAA and Sling Pilot Academy have teamed up to fight imposition of landing fees at Torrance Airport. We have
purchased a dataset of historic flight events data for Torrance Airport from FlightRadar24 and will be analyzing it to
- how many Torrance-based flight school operations occur today,
- how many transient flight school operations occur today,
- how many non-school operations occur today by both Torrance-based and transient aircraft, and
- how the above decisions by our airport businesses and pilots will affect the airport and local economy.
When the landing fee proposal comes before the Airport Commission and City Council, WE WILL BE READY.