New Landing Fee Could Hit Jet-Setters Headed for Super Bowl

Jan. 10--Welcome to Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport and the Super Bowl. Now pay up.

For the first time -- and just in time for the Feb. 4 game -- private jets could be asked to pay landing fees.

"We're looking for everyone to shoulder their fair share of expenses for operations," said airport spokesman Greg Meyer.

Commercial airlines that pay hefty fees to use the airport have complained for years that private planes don't have to pay such fees too, said Broward County Commissioner John Rodstrom.

Yet those private planes, known as general aviation, make up 19 percent of the traffic at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood. And on busy holiday weekends, they have clogged South Florida's skies, sometimes delaying the commercial travelers who ultimately pay the airlines' landing fees as part of their air fare.

"[At] certain times of a year, without a question it impacts commercial aviation. The Super Bowl is probably one of those times," Rodstrom said.

County commissioners have been talking about instituting general aviation fees for more than a year. The issue will come to a vote Jan. 23, and would take effect Feb. 1, just in time for the expected Super Bowl traffic.

Under the plan, planes would pay 97 cents per 1,000 pounds, based on published Federal Aviation Administration guidelines for weight. Each private plane would pay a minimum of $10.

The fees are expected to raise $700,000 to $750,000 a year. The money would be collected by the fixed base operators -- companies with agreements to operate hangars and provide private plane maintenance at the airport.

Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood has long been the cheapest big-airport option for private planes. Figures for Miami International Airport were not available Tuesday, but in late 2005 planes under 15,000 pounds paid a flat fee of $41.50 per landing.

For a bargain landing that's even closer to Dolphin Stadium in North Miami-Dade, where the Super Bowl will be played, jet-setters could consider the other airport run by Broward County, North Perry in Pembroke Pines. It has no landing fees for general aviation, although gassing up will cost an extra 2.5 cents per gallon.

Farther north, Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport also offers free landings. But as with North Perry, pilots pay a fuel surcharge that goes toward airport operations.