TRUMP’S

vis­its to prop­er­ties hit air­ports nearby.

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - DAVID PORTER In­for­ma­tion for this ar­ti­cle was contributed by Joshua Re­plogle of The Associated Press.

READINGTON TOWN­SHIP, N.J. — Small air­ports and avi­a­tion- re­lated busi­nesses within 10 miles of Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s prop­er­ties in Florida and New Jersey have lost out on hun­dreds of thou­sands of dol­lars in busi­ness al­ready this year be­cause the air­ports can’t be open when he’s in one of his nearby homes.

“Twenty per­cent of our an­nual busi­ness is af­fected by the pres­i­dent’s vis­its in the sum­mer­time be­cause that’s how much of our busi­ness takes place on the week­ends in the sum­mer­time,” said Thor Sol­berg, whose air­port in western New Jersey is mostly idle while Trump spends 17 days this month at his Bedminster coun­try club.

The air­ports have no re­course other than to ap­peal to the Se­cret Ser­vice, which over­sees pres­i­den­tial se­cu­rity. But that proved un­suc­cess­ful for the own­ers of a small Florida air­port that lies within the no-fly zone near Trump’s Mar-a-Lago re­sort. In March, the Se­cret Ser­vice told the ten­ants of Lan­tana Air­port that air­craft couldn’t take off from the fa­cil­ity, which is about 6 miles south­west of Mar-a-Lago. The 28 busi­nesses at the air­port in­clude a flight school and ban­ner op­er­a­tion. They said they were los­ing thou­sands of dol­lars each time Trump vis­ited.

Jonathan Miller, the con­trac­tor who op­er­ates the air­port, said ear­lier this year that a he­li­copter com­pany opted to move else­where rather than deal with the air­port clo­sures, tak­ing an es­ti­mated $440,000 in an­nual rent and fuel pay­ments with it.

Michelle Ed­wards, of­fice man­ager at Palm Beach Flight Train­ing at Lan­tana, said it was es­pe­cially stress­ful in the spring when Trump’s vis­its closed the air­port for three straight week­ends, usu­ally with about two days’ no­tice.

“We have cus­tomers, their first ques­tion when they call is, ‘Am I even go­ing to be able to train there be­cause of Pres­i­dent Trump com­ing down so much?’” Ed­wards said. “So we have cus­tomers leav­ing, go­ing else­where and not even start­ing with us be­cause they’re ner­vous about Pres­i­dent Trump com­ing in.”

Sol­berg echoed Ed­wards’ con­cerns about the po­ten­tially long-last­ing ef­fects of the dis­rup­tion.

“It’s not just the cur­rent rev­enue that’s a prob­lem,” he said, not­ing that his Sol­berg-Hun­ter­don Air­port is los­ing “tens of thou­sands of dol­lars” this month. “It’s the fact that we’re un­able to get con­tin­u­ous new busi­ness be­cause we’re un­able to pro­vide po­ten­tial cus­tomers with a ser­vice that they can rely on.”

Sev­eral mem­bers of New Jersey’s con­gres­sional delegation sent a let­ter to the Se­cret Ser­vice in June urg­ing it to con­sider al­low­ing the air­ports near Trump’s res­i­dence to use a sys­tem sim­i­lar to one in place near Washington, D.C., that al­lows prop­erly screened pilots to fly to and from air­ports in a se­cu­rity-sen­si­tive area.

So far, there has been no re­sponse, Rep. Leonard Lance, R-N.J., said Mon­day. A Se­cret Ser­vice spokesman didn’t re­turn an email seek­ing com­ment.

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