Political analyst and Democratic strategist James Carville warned that the airlines are coming after general aviation. He made the statement before the start of a user-fee expert panel discussion at the National Business Aviation Association convention on Wednesday. The panel will also appear at AOPA Expo in Palm Springs, California, next month. A battle royal is expected from now until September 30, 2007, when the congressional authorization and tax mechanism that currently funds the FAA expire. The Air Transport Association of America (ATA), the airlines’ trade association, is spearheading the campaign to switch to an airline-supervised, user fee-based system. While ATA has promised it won’t push for user fees on piston-engine personal aircraft, panel members made it clear that they do not trust ATA to keep the promise. The ATA “promise” ignores two things, according to panel member Andy Cebula, AOPA executive vice president of government affairs. First, future GA aircraft may very well be powered by something other than avgas-fueled pistons. Second, user fees will inevitably be extended to all aircraft as it has happened elsewhere in the world. It costs $30 as a consultation fee just to call for a weather briefing in the United Kingdom, for example. Earlier this week, Cebula also explained the deleterious effect of user fees on the GA transportation system to airport executives gathered for the annual American Association of Airport Executives convention.
Source: AOPA Online