In a mass e-mail message dated May 19, Air Transport Association (ATA) President and CEO James May expresses admiration for Kentucy Derby winner Big Brown, the thoroughbred that easily loped to victory this year. Unlike Big Brown, the airlines still find themselves stuck at the starting gate, unable to move forward with a user fee agenda that has no legs. While watching the event on TV, May gets distracted during the winner?s circle celebrations. He starts thinking about how airline passengers somehow ?subsidize? the ?posh? trips to the race for the privileged few. That?s a big leap, even for Big Brown, and bigger still for big iron.
The Alliance for Aviation Across America, a coalition of aviation enthusiasts, airports, and civic groups, took aim at May?s claims with a healthy dose of reality:
- May?s e-mail suggests that general aviation causes delays, when in fact, according to the Department of Transportation data, the primary causes of airline delays are weather and the airlines? own business practices. General aviation isn?t even mentioned as a factor.
- The message claims that GA is unwilling to pay for air traffic control modernization, when in fact, the GA community supports legislation that includes a 65-percent increase in the fuel tax to go toward modernization.
- The e-mail also expresses fear about rosy production figures for new business jets. The truth is that small airplane owners are feeling the economic pinch, too. Total hours flown by GA aircraft has decreased by 20 percent since 1990.