Common Misconceptions

‘The City is in fact the “proprietor” of the Naples Airport.’

The term “airport proprietor” has been tested and affirmed by several court cases.  See the enclosed memo, The Definition of “Airport Proprietor” and Its Application to Naples Airport.

The Florida Legislature created the Naples Airport Authority in 1969 at the request of the City of Naples.  After its creation, the City leased the airport property to the NAA through 2068. Since then, the NAA has been officially recognized as the airport sponsor, operator and also as the airport proprietor.

Both the prior City Attorney and the FAA have stated, in writing, that the City is not the proprietor nor the sponsor of the airport. Additionally, at the September 19th City Council meeting the aviation attorney engaged by the City also indicated that regardless of who the airport sponsor or proprietor is that they are still subject to the Airport Noise and Capacity Act of 1990 (ANCA) which prohibits any new local restrictions without FAA approval.

“For every 1,000 feet of additional altitude noise is reduced 10-fold.”

For every doubling of altitude (e.g. increasing altitude from 1,000’ to 2,000’ or from 2,000’ to 4,000’) noise decreases by 6 decibels. People generally cannot notice a change of less than 3dB, whereas a reduction of 5-6 dB is readily noticeable. A reduction of 10 dB is generally perceived as being half as loud. The benefits are reduced at higher altitudes as it becomes harder to distinguish noise from aircraft noise relative to noise from other sources.

A pilot who spoke during public comment at a recent meeting affirmed safety concerns by explaining that flying at 2,000’ over the City, is not safe and that bird strikes at those altitudes are a major concern.

At the November 21, joint meeting of the Naples City Council and the NAA Board of Commissioners, a professional pilot explained that the safest place for aircraft to be is over a “wide open body of water”.  He further explained that “the current route is the best route for safety” and that “it helps to mitigate the risk to people on the ground, the pilots and passengers”.  Similar statements have been made by other pilots throughout the Noise Study.

‘The NAA doesn’t need the FAA to make changes to flight procedures.’

According to federal law, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) maintains exclusive authority over all matters of airspace.  Any changes to aircraft altitudes, flight paths, runway use, or hours of operations require approval by the FAA.  Neither the NAA nor the City of Naples can enact any changes or restrictions without prior FAA approval.  See the enclosed memo, Federal Preemption of Local Regulation of Aeronautical Operations.’

‘If the airport was private, it would be able to limit which or how many aircraft can use the airport.’

The concept of a publicly owned, private airport has been pursued by the Town of East Hampton, New York as a means to implement restrictions on the use of their airport.  Federal law expressly prohibits any new use restrictions put in place solely by local governments or airport sponsors without prior FAA approval.

To date, this has been affirmed by multiple ongoing lawsuits between the Town of East Hampton and its residents, businesses, airport users and industry associations.  Courts have found those actions illegal and have prohibited the restrictions from being enacted. In November 2022, the Town increased their annual legal budget to $3 million for 2022 to continue these efforts.

‘Citizens should be able to use their own privately owned aircraft, but not charter and fractional aircraft, who are not residents.’

Federal law prohibits discrimination in allowing certain types of aircraft or operators to use an airport while prohibiting others that are safely able to do so.

Additionally, it is not accurate to say that those who own an aircraft are local residents while those that use charter or fractional services are not.  In 2020 and 2021, the NAA hired an independent, outside research firm to survey passengers.  In both instances, the study found that over 80% of jet passengers surveyed either lived in Naples or were coming to purchase a home. 

The Naples Airport has more flights than Southwest Florida International Airport (RSW).

n calendar year 2021 the Naples Airport had approximately half of the jet traffic of RSW.  Below is a chart comparing operations at Naples, Southwest Florida International and Page Field Airports.

AirportTotal OperationsJet Operations
Naples (APF)113,13746,920
Southwest Florida International (RSW)101,40884,066

(large commercial jets)

Page Field (FMY)140,062Data not available

*Calendar year data was used to match data reported by other airports.


Additionally, the jets operating at RSW are considerably larger than anything operating at the Naples Airport.  The Naples Airport’s maintains a 75,000-pound weight limit, with aircraft that average 9 seats each while those at RSW average 150 seats per aircraft.

FY 2021 operations are also considerably lower than the number of flights that the Naples Airport experienced at its peak nearly 20 years ago.  In 2005, the Naples Airport had over 163,000 flights and for many years operated well above the current level of operations.

It has also been stated that during season a jet flies overhead every three minutes.  While true for certain periods of time on some days, especially around the holidays, a jet every three minutes during season would equate to more than double the jet operations the Naples Airport actually handles during that timeframe.

City taxpayers subsidize the NAA since it only pays $1 per year on its lease.

The Florida Legislature created the Naples Airport Authority in 1969 at the request of the City of Naples because the airport was unprofitable and causing the City to fund the airport with taxpayer funds.  The City leased the Naples Airport to the NAA for 99 years for a rent of $1 per year.  This eliminated the financial burden on the City and its residents.  Since that time the airport has received no funds from the city, directly or indirectly and in fact the NAA paid for the construction of City Fire Station #3 and continues to pay for the equipment, salary and benefits of the firefighters that serve both the airport and surrounding community at a cost of nearly $1 million per year paid for by the NAA.  The NAA also provides portions of the Greenway at no expense to the City.

Additionally, in 2022 the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) estimated that the airport has a $781 million economic impact on the local economy.  This number is likely to have dramatically increased since then and is planned to be updated by FDOT in mid-December.  This further underscores the importance of the airport to the area’s tourism and real estate based economy.

‘This is a Citywide issue.’

The effects of aircraft noise largely impact a small swath of the City of Naples, predominately the southern portion of the Old Naples neighborhood.  Recommendations to disperse aircraft departures (and associated noise) have resulted in angst and opposition by other neighborhoods within the City including Port Royal, Royal Harbor, the Moorings, Aqualane Shores, Park Shore and the Gulfshore Association of Condos.  As a result, this has become a citywide issue.

The Naples Airport has become one of the top ten busiest general aviation airports in the Country.

Naples is not one of the 10 busiest general aviation airports in the country, in fact it is not near the top 10. In 2020 the Naples Airport had 104,179 operations, far outside of the top 10 General Aviation airports in the US.

AirportNumber of Operations (2020)
1. Van Nuys Airport487,420
2. Phoenix Deer Valley373,961
3. Centennial Airport286,842
4. Long Beach Airport253,646
5. Ernest A. Love Field262,523
6.                  Portland-Hillsboro Airport243,642
7.                  Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport233,246
8.                  Falcon Field228,358
9.                  Grand Forks International Airport224,959
10.              Gillespie Field208,250

Source: Private Jet Card Comparisons

However, in 2021 during the peak of the pandemic, the Naples Airport was the 10th busiest airport for private jet activity in the US.  As of November 30, 2022, jet activity has decreased 18% compared to last year (as a result of the impacts of Hurricane Ian, persistent inflation and an uncertain economy) and is no longer among the top 10 busiest airports in the US for private jet activity.

Aircraft are violating the FAA’s minimum safe altitude by flying too low over downtown Naples.

FAA Code of Federal Regulation 91.119 requires aircraft to fly at a minimum safe altitude of 1,000’ over congested areas, however this does not apply to aircraft in the process of taking off and landing.