Trump’s on vacation in NJ, grounding business at some local airports
BEDMINSTER — President Donald Trump's 17-day vacation at his golf club is bad news for the small airports around New Jersey.
Solberg Airport in Readington and Morristown Airport will essentially be closed to all air traffic because of an FAA temporary flight restriction in place through Aug. 21 that prohibits air traffic within a 10 mile radius of Trump's Bedminster club. Air Force One has landed at the airport in Morristown.
The restriction includes flight training, gliders, sightseeing flights, banner towing, model aircraft and crop dusting.
"The most devastating part of it is that it essentially makes attracting new business impossible because we can't offer universal access to the airport," Thor Solberg, the owner's airport said. "The future of the airport really depends on attracting new activity to the facility, which is really hard to sell when you can't guarantee that the airport will be open all the time."
Solberg Airport hosted the Quick Chek Festitval of Ballooning last weekend, which was unaffected by Trump as he did not travel to New Jersey. The festival's organizers had been assured that they would have been able to hold the balloon launches had he been at the club located 10 miles from Solberg.
One airport that finds itself on the edge of the restrictions is Robbinsville Airport in Mercer County.
"For a certain distance from a navigational beacon that (is located) right in the center of our airport, there's a 2-mile radius where it's not in effect and there's a way to get in and out of that little zone without having to file a flight plan or talk to air traffic control," Kevin from Air Mods Flight Center, a flight instruction school based at Robbinsville, told New Jersey 101.5. Kevin declined to give his last name.
He wasn't sure why the exemption was granted but recalled that Robbinsville was in the restricted zone when Pope Francis visited Philadelphia in 2016. "Half the airport was in it. If you were to take off and get off the ground after a certain point you were out of it."
Princeton Airport, which is located 30 miles from Bedminster, is not under as a severe a restriction as Solberg. Manager Ken Nierenberg said the airport will use the time during Trump’s visit to seal and repair cracks in the 20-year-old runway and taxi way. This project, paid with a state grant, was scheduled for the fall when airport operations slow down but was moved up when Trump announced his visit.
"The August restrictions are unprecedented, so we had to find ways to accommodate our base customers with needed improvements," Nierenberg said. "At least they will have a better runway and taxiway when the project is completed. We are asking for everyone’s patience and cooperation as we move forward.”
The Associated Press and Ray Malaspina contributed to this report
Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com.
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