Gliders fight 'unrealistic' landing fees
WARWICK Gliding Club members are fighting for a reduction in landing fees for gliders at Warwick Aerodrome after costs more than doubled.
The annual fee for landing at the airfield rose from $100 to $250 when the most recent council budget was approved in June, while the single stop landing fee rose from $10 to $11.
Gliding community members say this is a hefty price for those who do not use many facilities at the airfield.
Club president Ivor Harris said the club had not previously been invoiced for landing fees, but knew a charge was coming.
Mr Harris said about six months ago the projected charge was $100 but that figure rose to $250 a few months ago.
He said changes made to the aerodrome that incurred costs, such as lighting, the sealed runway and registering the airfield, were decided on by Southern Downs Regional Council.
He said it was unfair for gliders to pay for these facilities when they did not use them. Gliders operate their aircraft on the grass at the airfield.
"It's utterly unrealistic to expect us to pay all of those cost that we don't want, don't use and never asked for,” he said.
"The gliders operated there for decades without sealed runways and lighting.”
Mr Harris said the club helped with the upkeep of the aerodrome by mowing the lawn used by the gliders.
"We're happy with the concept of user pays, but the gliding club has for many decades and has contributed to the upkeep of the aerodrome,” he said.
"We contribute in a major way to maintaining the grass area and bits of the airfield that we do use.”
He said at a meeting with the council about six weeks ago he raised the idea of gliders paying half the price being charged.
But club members had already begun receiving invoices for the higher fees.
"We accept the idea of cost recovery, no one can argue with that,” he said.
"It's unfair of council that they should recover those costs from those that keep gliders or a few light aircraft.
"So many of the expenses have nothing to do with us.
"The cost of the enhancements to that facility to enhance its value as a community asset should be borne by the council.”
Club member Bill Wilkinson said
the club was using the facility, but to a limited degree.
"Gliders operate off the grass and there's a lot of feeling within the gliding movement that the fees that the council are wanting to charge are a little unfair, given the history of the club looking after the place for so many decades,” Mr Wilkinson said.
"The gliding club is virtually looking after itself to a large degree.”
The club plans to meet with the council next month to discuss its concerns.
"A meeting has been arranged in early September to put the club's case for a reduced fee because we aren't using the lights, the bitumen and the other facilities and we are helping to maintain the aerodrome.”
Southern Downs mayor Tracy Dobie said the landing fees applied to all aircraft using the aerodrome, whether they landed on the grass strip or tarmac.
"The landing fees are being applied to an aircraft, including a glider, for a full stop that that aircraft makes on that landing strip,” Cr Dobie said.
She said gliders still used infrastructure when landing at the aerodrome.
"It's a great credit to them that they've been involved in the aerodrome for such a long time but that doesn't negate that there are costs incurred at the aerodrome every day and those costs need to be contributed to by the users,” she said.
Cr Dobie said income gathered through the landing fees would be reinvested in infrastructure at the aerodrome.