Sunday September 25 President Obama came to Seattle to talk about his new spending bill at a fundraiser event, and Temporary Flight Restrictions (TFR) were imposed for the safety of the President. The interruption meant a great deal for small businesses that depend on day to day flights to survive.
There was a perimeter of thirty nautical miles established around the theatre that Obama was speaking in; that’s a lot of space for one person and it lead to the disruption of nineteen total airports and businesses for the duration of the presidents stay. The larger of these companies were Sea-Tac International Airport, Kenmore Municipal Airport, Boeing, Renton Municipal Airport, and Paine Field. Large companies such as these can accommodate for such a disturbance and not lose too much business, but that is not to say that it was not extremely inconvenient and costly.
“[TFRs],” says Craig fuller, Airplane O—ners and Pilots Association (AOPA) president.
“will impose unnecessary economic hardships on a region”
Some of the smaller businesses, such as Seattle Seaplanes, a local touring and scenic view company, had a much harder time dealing with the disturbance due to the narrow specialized focus of their business. The area that the business operates in was partially within a no-fly zone and partially within a restricted area. They had to either change the area that they fly in or they had to completely stop flying for the day, which is absolutely catastrophic for a small company.
According to AOPA.org, In February 2010, a much less restrictive TFR was established over the Las Vegas area that resulted in a loss of commerce in excess of $700,000. If possible, businesses would be compensated for their trouble, but that would be very difficult and unreasonably expensive.
If there is an emergency on the ground that a pilot has to attend to, then he cannot until Air Force One (AFO) is dealt with. This has to happen every time AFO wants to take off or land from anywhere, and that not to mention how much just flying AFO costs. According to the Chicago Tribune, Obama’s Air Force One’s flight to Chicago and back cost $236,000.
AFO also takes up a large amount of airspace because there is a moving no-fly zone around it, so if the president wants to make a trip, no other planes can fly in the same area as him, leading to altered flight plans and probably a larger consumption of fuel. When President Bush was in office he decided to make a surprise trip out to talk, and no one was alerted of this. As he was flying another plane flew nearby him, not knowing differently, and was greeted by the fighter jets accompanying the president.
Such a thing is very bad for business. It shows that the pilots are not paying as much attention as they should be. Whether or not that is true it does not matter, that is the stigma that comes from this kind of event, and this, unfortunately, all came from the president visiting town.