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Fundamentals of Airports/Airport Ownership and Operational Responsibility

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Types of Airport Ownership[edit | edit source]

Airports can be owned by a number of different entities; the military, civil government bodies, privately owned corporations, and even individuals are examples of these. The owners of an airport are responsible for overseeing day-to-day operation of the field and ensuring compliance with the rules imposed on them by the regulatory body/bodies responsible for their governance. Regardless of the airport's owner, fields can be designated either for public or private use. In essence, a public use airport is accessible to all aircraft provided they comply with any rules the airport operators develop concerning operations at their field. Conversely, private-use airports are designated for specific people and companies, and may not be accessed (except in an emergency) without prior permission.

Government Owned Airports[edit | edit source]

Government owned airports fall under the authority of a specific level of local government, such as the federal government, the state government, county government, or municipal government. Some larger areas delegate power over airports to the local port authority (The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ), for example, has operational authority over LaGuardia Airport, Newark Liberty Airport, John F. Kennedy Airport, Stewart Airport, Teterboro Airport, and Atlantic City Airport). Other airports are run directly by the county or municipality in which they are located; Westchester County Airport and Santa Monica Municipal Airport are owned by the respective governmental authorities for which they are named. Military Airfields tend to be owned by the branch of service responsible for their management—the United States Air Force owns McGuire Field—a joint air force base in New Jersey. In some cases, airports designated for both military and civil use (such as Charleston Joint Base) are designated as shared use, and the military owns part of the airport while the civil government owns and operates the parts of the airport pertinent to civil flight, such as passenger terminals.