Lantana Airport businesses: Trump’s weekend visit cost us as much as $50,000 in lost commerce

 

Miller (Palm Beach Post/Damon Higgins)

Miller (Palm Beach Post/Damon Higgins)

The first visit by new President Donald Trump cost aviation-related businesses at Lantana Airport an estimated $50,000 this past weekend alone, and with Trump reportedly making another visit next weekend, a flight school that’s the airport’s biggest tenant already is looking to leave Palm Beach County, an airport manager said this week.

It’s not just this past weekend; “the question is ‘how many of those 3-day periods do you have?”” Jonathan Miller, CEO of Stellar Aviation, said late Monday.

Stellar Aviation is the “fixed base operator,” and the landlord of sorts, for several businesses that operate at the airport, which has been listed as the 10th busiest “general aviation” air facility in the country.

By edict of the U.S. Secret Service, any time the president is at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, a series of flight restrictions are put in place. They’re much stronger than those in effect when Trump visited while president-elect, and effectively shut down the Lantana airport.

County Airport’s chief Bruce Pelly said late Monday that, with Air Force One having gone wheels up just hours earlier, it was too early to get a handle on the impact of the flight restrictions.

Bruce Pelly did say that he’s had no reports that any aircraft violated the concentric 1-mile, 10-mile and 30-mile restriction zones around what Trump has called his “winter White House.”

Pelly said he’s “still trying to get a head count” on flights that came through the area after getting security clearances at “gateway airports.”

Stellar’s Miller said Palm Beach Flight Training was shut down this weekend and company president Marian Smith suddenly is looking at a second dark weekend now that the president reportedly will be right back at Mar-a-Lago for talks with the prime minister of Japan.

“Her basic comment to me was that if this continues consistently and we’re shut down consistently, we’re going to have to move our opreaton out of the county complete.y.,” Miller said.

He said Smith already has told him some students have dropped out of the school. Smith couldn’t be reached late Monday.

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