We hope leaders in the Mississippi House will keep most – but not all – of Sen. Harkins’ bill intact. The senator had not intended to include Hawkins Field, Jackson’s general aviation airport, in the legislation. He says he did so at the urging of Airport Authority CEO Carl Newman.
Mr. Newman, according to Sen. Harkins, worries that Hawkins Field can’t survive without a subsidy from revenues generated at Jackson Evers. We appreciate the Airport Authority CEO’s concern but that concern goes to the heart of why change must come to governance of the commercial airport. No reason exists for dollars spent by air travelers from Madison, Byram, Pearl, Flowood, Clinton and elsewhere to fund an airport inside Jackson serving private aircraft owners.
Consolidation of airlines and the bankruptcies of many others over the years have brought struggles to commercial airports across the country. The ones healthy today have created new revenue sources from the assets they have, including land and buildings. Some have received assists from state, regional and local governments willing to create incentives for carriers and other commercial enterprises. These sources have also helped to provide needed infrastructure and enact flexible land-use policies.
Jackson-Evers can do the same, but threats of lawsuits from Jackson officials and their backers in the Legislature cause us to suspect they want to keep the City Hall power corridor intact rather than enhance an economic asset.
Let’s replace a vision that is limited geographically and otherwise with a more expansive one. And then start pursuing some ambitious goals.