Air traffic to increase during convention

The airports around the Twin Cities haven’t gotten much attention from the media in advance of the Republican National Convention in August. But the Twin Cities Business Journal reports the increase in private jet traffic by the bigwigs should be quite noticeable.

Airports with longer runways — including St. Paul Downtown, Anoka County-Blaine, Flying Cloud (in Eden Prairie) and Minneapolis-St. Paul International — will likely see the biggest increases in private traffic, he said.

St. Paul Downtown Airport has yet to predict convention traffic, said Greg Fries, airport manager. But he’s planning to work with the firms that service and store planes at the airport to prepare for a rush.

During the 2004 Democratic National Convention, Hanscom Field, a large reliever airport near Boston, received about 100 extra planes, Shift Manager Neal Ivester said. “That took a lot of extra space, so we had to cone off certain areas,” he said. “We didn’t have to close any taxiways or runways, but we’re lucky because we’re an old Air Force base and have a significant amount of ramp space to utilize.”

Security concerns are likely to keep private pilots firmly on the ground. For many, the hassle of having no-fly zones popping up out of nowhere, increasing the risk of a confrontation with one of the several fighters jets which will be deployed to the area for the convention, isn’t worth the joy of flight.

Regardless of what kind of private plane or jet is flying, St. Cloud and Eau Claire are bound to be the big winners in the “air traffic” sweepstakes. According to sources, fliers will have to stop at one of those two airports before receiving permission to fly into the Twin Cities region.

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