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FAA grants $1.2M in COVID relief to airport for Martha's Vineyard's rich, famous and connected

The island airport seasonally receives the private jets of streams of politicians, members of the media elite, and celebrities.

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Golden Horseshoe
Golden Horseshoe
(Just the News)
Updated: February 20, 2021 - 11:36pm

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

The Golden Horseshoe is a weekly designation from Just the News intended to highlight egregious examples of wasteful taxpayer spending by the government. The ward is named for the horseshoe-shaped toilet seats for military airplanes that cost the Pentagon a whopping $640 each back in the 1980s. 

This week, our award is going to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), a branch of the Department of Transportation (DOT), not just for funneling $1.2 million in coronavirus relief to an airport serving the Atlantic Seabord's wealth and status elites, but for subsidizing more than $40 million in costs at that airport over the last decade-and-a-half.

Martha's Vineyard is famously the summer playground to some of the wealthiest, most politically and socially connected members of American, and particularly East Coast, society. From political families — like the Obamas, Clintons and Kennedys, to the media and creative elites, including Mike Wallace and Diane Sawyer, Spike Lee and Larry David, the small island is (seasonally) home or vacation destination to an imperial array of famous faces.

Due to its high number of A-list residents, the Martha's Vineyard airport sees a much-higher-than-average number of private and chartered flights land on its boutique runway. Ultimately, the way island residents choose to reach their summer homes need not be judged by the public — save, perhaps, for newly appointed Climate Czar John Kerry, who frequently alights on the Vineyard via private jet, en route to his nearly $12 million beachfront getaway.

However, questions may arise when it is discovered that the airport where many a privately owned Gulfstream touches down is lavishly subsidized by the average American tax payer. In 2019, the Federal Aviation Administration doled out nearly $1.3 million to the County of Dukes, which encompasses Martha's Vineyard, for "airport improvements."

In 2020, the boutique airstrip was gifted another $1.2 million for coronavirus relief.

In 2018 alone, the airport received $10.8 million in federal largesse to support upgrades. "Martha's Vineyard is a world-class destination, and it deserves an airport of world-class distinction," progressive Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) said at the time. "With this federal funding, Martha’s Vineyard Airport can restore its runway, ensuring it is as welcoming as the neighboring beaches. I am proud of this strong federal investment in Martha's Vineyard's economy, and I look forward to continuing the strong local-federal partnership with the region to address critical infrastructure needs."

The airport hosts about 41,000 flights per year. (Although the island has only about 17,000 year-round residents, that number climbs to about 200,000 during the summer months.) And yet, the airport charges its wealthy clientele conspicuously low landing fees.

It is dismaying, to put it mildly, how often this column must end by pondering why everyday Americans' hard-earned tax dollars are being redistributed upwards by the federal government to subsidize the lives of the rich and famous.