Congresswoman Lois Frankel met with Lantana Airport officials and business owners Monday to discuss how the frequent visits by President Trump impact their business.
Jorge Gonzales with Skywards Advertising has a clear prognosis.
“If they continue on their present course, I will be out of business May 1,” Gonzales said. “It’s brutal for me. I’m a small business owner, I have three small children.”
Skywards Advertising has been operating out of the Lantana Airport for 10 years, flying advertising banners for around 100 clients in the Palm Beach county area. Most of their business happens during the weekend and when they had to shut down each time the president was in town they lost around $30,000.
Gonzales said the biggest problem is that clients don’t want to sign contracts when they don’t know if the president’s presence in the area will shut down the airport.
“They’re saying if he’s not here we’ll call you,” Gonzales said.
The concerns are heard from many people at the meeting on Monday.
“We may have to lay off employees,” said David Johnson, member of the Lantana Airport Advisory Committee. “It’s a tough thing.”
Frankel listened to people’s concerns and said she hopes to work out a special arrangement for the airport.
“I’m going to convey it to the Secret Service, I’m going to convey it to the White House and the governor,” Frankel said.
They discussed ideas ranging from only using one runway, to tighten security measures for pilots.
The Palm Beach International Airport is reporting 30 to 40% decrease in business and private airplane traffic. Commercial airlines are not impacted by the travel restrictions while President Trump is in town.
Meanwhile, Boca Raton’s airport is picking up business.
“Last weekend we did see an increase of about 200 percent in air traffic compared to last year,” said Scott Kohut, deputy director with the Boca Raton Airport Authority.
The increase in air traffic is mostly coming from business travelers, usually flying into Palm Beach International.
“A lot of the business operators don’t want to deal with the increased security measures up at Palm Beach International,” Kohut said.
Since the Boca Raton airport is much further away from Mar-a-Lago than Lantana or Palm Beach International Airport, flight restrictions are less stringent.
More business however also means more noise complaints.
“It’s a double edged sword,” Kohut said. “We have an increase in fuel sales but we have a corresponding increase in noise concerns from the community.”