Airports: Bruce Willis risks flak over plan for own airport

Some Hollywood action heroes, such as Tom Cruise, collect jet aircraft but Bruce Willis is going one further – he is building his own airport.

The Federal Aviation Administration will hold public consultations this week on plans by Willis for a private airport near his ski resort in Idaho.

Willis wants to build close to the small town of Hailey where he is regarded as both economic savior and aggressive negotiator.

Some residents complain that the 54-year-old star acts as if he owns the place. In the past, he practically did. Willis moved to the picturesque town nearly 20 years ago, telling locals he wanted to be treated like a “regular guy”, before he started buying bars and restaurants.

Things started to go wrong in the late 1990s when Willis was sued by two builders over unpaid bills and a nanny claimed she was “shamelessly exploited and bullied”. The cases were settled out of court.

He seems to have withdrawn advertising from a local newspaper that aired concerns about some tax breaks. More seriously, tourism slowed down in Hailey and some of his businesses were hit.

Willis shut most of them, keeping a ranch – which he recently visited with his new bride, Emma Heming, 31 – and the Liberty theatre, where sessions of his Die Hard movies are screened.

His entry to the aviation business is worrying managers at Hailey’s own airport, Fried-man Memorial, where expansion plans are jeopardised by what one local critic dubs “Willis International”.

Both airports want 8,000ft runways, long enough for big passenger jets, but they may be too close together, said an aviation expert.

“The authorities will have to rule which is the safest. Fried-man has a solid record but it is boxed into canyons. Willis carries a big stick and offers fresh employment opportunities,” the expert said.

The new airport would serve Soldier Mountain ski resort, owned by Willis, who hopes to compete with the better-known Sun Valley ski resort, 12 miles north of Hailey.

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