Irony fills the air in place of small aircraft as hobbyists and small businesses bear the weight of President Trump’s travel whims.


Jacob Magnuson, Copy Editor

To most Palm Beach County residents, serpentine detours and dense rush-hour traffic surrounding the airport are the worst parts of President Trump’s weekend visits to Mar-a-Lago. However, for many small business owners and hobbyists, the damage is far worse than what meets the eye.

“In general aviation, there are some places that you straight up can not go,” senior Malcolm Owens explains. Normally, he says, these sorts of restrictions only apply to places like “The White House or Area 51 – they’re prohibited airspaces. But, in cases of certain situations like the President going somewhere, they set up TFR’s, or Temporary Flight Restrictions.”

These Temporary Flight Restrictions, whose intentions and presentation seem innocuous enough, affect every sky-bound person or craft within the thirty mile bubble that surrounds Trump at any given moment. The policy is intended to keep maligned individuals with aircraft at their disposal from wreaking havoc or destruction on the President’s goings-on – but this protection does not occur without consequences.

Although regularly scheduled commercial flights – that is, jetliners working for major airlines whose schedules are laid out months or years in advance – are not affected, smaller airports and businesses whose livelihood is sending aircraft up have been completely blindsided by the requisite restrictions President Trump’s excursions to the Winter White House bring.

“Palm Beach Lantana Airport has been shut down completely because they have so little traffic, and it’s right next to [Mar-a-Lago]. Like, I’m pretty sure two of the flight instructing schools there are shut down permanently because they can’t handle it; there’s no money going in,” Malcolm said. The cost of renting a hangar and paying flight instructors is one only delicately held in balance by proper customer interest, and when small aircraft are grounded for weekends at a time, that balance is lost.

It’s not just private pilots and flight instructors that are hurting from these restrictions. Aviation is an industry with many veins – if recreational and career pilots aren’t putting their planes in the air, the fuel stations that normally service those planes suffer from a loss of business. Palm Beach Post journalists met with several different kinds of businesses after Trump’s third consecutive visit, and their findings were less than exciting: sightseeing companies are out of commission, and spring is typically their busiest season due to snowbird visits. Banner advertising ventures, skydiving outfitters, you name it – all are experiencing financial hurt each time Trump pays a visit to West Palm Beach.

The flight restrictions aren’t the only thing impacting establishments in the area. Protections surrounding President Trump apply not only to the sky, but to the roadways as well. NPR reported in February that “some restaurants are feeling the “Trump effect” as well. Recently, 75 no-shows at the Costa Palm Beach cost the restaurant about $5,000 because of the traffic. Street closures make getting around tough.” Snowbirds unfamiliar with the area aren’t familiar with the detours set up by the Secret Service’s roadway security, and many locals aren’t willing to brave the single-lane side roads either. Each visit makes travel needlessly inconvenient, complicated, and sluggish.

To many of these small businesses, this strain – and the federal government’s seeming disregard for their outcry – is a slap in the face.

Trump’s campaign rhetoric took careful steps to foster the courtship of small businesses. Many of his voters took comfort in the fact that his presidency would bring change to the way that federal regulations impact personal enterprises. The cries of one of Trump’s largest audiences are falling on deaf ears – an unfortunate truth which does not reflect well on his administration.