User Fees – Airline Lobby Group Places Half Truth Stories Across the Country

The airline lobby group ATA has placed stories (not under their name) in newspapers in all the major markets suggesting that private airports and “fat cat” corporate flyers are taking advantage of the current system. Which is of course, why they want to see the their user fees implemented. Click “Read More” below to read a AOPA generated article which fights back.

AOPA Points Out ‘Inaccuracies’ And ‘Oversimplifications’ Of AP Funding Story

Encourages Members To Set The Record Straight With Local Newspapers

The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association reports many AOPA members have already sent off tersely-worded responses to an Associated Press story that ran earlier this week, which cast GA in a decidely dim light by tying airline ticket taxes to funding for local airports used by private aircraft pilots, and business jets.

In essence, the national story stated small airports are getting billions of dollars from taxes paid by airline passengers, and using the funds with little oversight “at the expense of an increasingly beleaguered air transportation system.”

Interestingly, the AP story also mirrored many statements made by FAA Administrator Marion Blakey and other officials in promoting the agency’s proposed funding reauthorization scheme, that AOPA and other aviation groups have said would strip such funds from small airports.

Of course, the funding system the report refers to has been in place for years, as a portion of such taxes on airline ticket sales contribute to the general fund… which in turn provides funding for improvements at smaller airports (and, thus, allowing those airports to be utilized by smaller GA planes… instead of having a Cessna 172 holding up the 747 flying into LAX — Ed.)

AOPA says the AP story contained “oversimplifications” and “inaccuracies,” however, that fail to tell the whole story of why such funds are necessary.

“Maybe you are unaware that Fort Worth is surrounded by these small airports, and that far from being the playground of the ‘globe-trotting executives’ who are ‘making out like bandits,’ these airfields are used by average working stiffs like me,” pilot Dave Morris told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “I’m 51 years old, married, and have four dogs, student loans for my child, car loans, and a mortgage like everyone else. I’d like to show you a different side of the general aviation that is being maligned in this article.”

“Last year when my 76-year-old father in Albuquerque needed to have carpal tunnel surgery and shoulder bypass surgery, it was only possible because I could fly myself and my brother out there in alternating shifts every week to take care of him. The bill from the airlines would have been astronomical,” Morris continued.

AOPA President Phil Boyer says such responses from members — combined with local news outlets, that decided to look into the matter a bit more closely — has helped combat the negative, and inaccurate, tone of the AP report.

“It’s amazing what facts will do for a story,” said Boyer, who is a former ABC executive. “When you put more on the table, the flaws in this radical FAA funding scheme become readily apparent. We encourage our members to write their local media and let them know how you feel.”

We’re checking on thesaruses for synonyms of “rising bile” as we speak…

FMI: www.aopa.org, www.faa.gov

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