Many of the nation’s biggest airlines are the strongest advocates for user fees. But a new white paper, “Turbulence ahead: How user fees could ground the FAA,” prepared by aviation industry expert Darryl Jenkins, shows that user fees could hurt both consumers and the airlines.” Jenkins’ research adds to the evidence that AOPA has been presenting against user fees,” said AOPA President Phil Boyer. “A user-fee funded aviation system is bad public policy, strongly opposed by general aviation pilots and, ironically, potentially harmful to the very people that it is supposed to benefit.” Jenkins reiterated AOPA’s position that the current FAA funding system works just fine. “There is no evidence to justify radical changes in the aviation tax and fee system,” Jenkins wrote in the white paper prepared for the National Air Traffic Controllers Association. “Every available industry indicator relating to the FAA?including passenger volume and yield?is on the rise.” (Boyer said the same thing before Congress last May.) Jenkins says user fees would be “financial disaster” for U.S. airlines, because when revenue from user fees decreases for any reason (typically, a soft economy), airlines and other stakeholders would have to make up the shortfall. “Airlines in financial difficulty could avoid paying millions of dollars in user fees by filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The resulting shortfall would have to be made up by other users,” Jenkins said. “Do we really want air traffic control or other FAA services subject to the same economic vagaries that have ravaged the airlines?” AOPA Online

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