Act NOW! User Fees in Senate FAA Funding Proposal (SB 1300)

NBAA Opposes User Fees in Senate FAA Funding Proposal (SB1300)
WASHINGTON, DC, May 3, 2007 — The National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) today announced its opposition to proposed Senate legislation that includes aviation user fees.

“For decades, Congress has responsibly managed a system of aviation excise taxes to ensure that the U.S. has the largest, safest and most efficient air transportation system in the world,” NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen said. “It is regrettable that at a critical point in our transformation to the Next Generation Air Traffic System, the bill is proposing a sharp pivot away from a proven funding structure toward the foreign-style user fees that have been so harmful to small aircraft operators outside the U.S.” The proposal, introduced today, would impose a per-flight fee on a wide variety of types of general aviation aircraft used mostly by small and mid-size businesses in small towns and rural areas that often have little or no airline service.

“NBAA Members strongly support efforts to transform the nation’s aviation system to meet future needs,” Bolen continued. “But there are several reasons why we oppose the user fees included in the Senate proposal.”

  • The user fees would treat all airplanes the same regardless of size, meaning that a jumbo jetliner carrying 300 people will be treated the same as a small turboprop flying with three people aboard. This approach assumes that all aircraft impose equal cost upon the aviation system, when an enormous amount of data shows that the FAA’s costs are mainly driven by the airlines’ expensive, congested “hub-and-spoke” airport network.
  • The user fees would require replacement of the ultra-efficient fuel-tax system with a huge new, expensive bureaucracy of billing agents, collection agents, auditors, dispute arbitrators and others, creating a hidden administrative burden.
  • User fees are subject to manipulation and can be raised when industry can afford it least. In 2002, when air traffic was depressed as a result of the recession and terrorist attacks, Canada raised its user fees to cover its declining revenues.
  • User fees would be the first step toward privatization of the aviation system, stripping the role of Congress in preserving all aviation interests, including those of general aviation.

    Bolen noted that, in addition to establishing new user fees, recent news reports have indicated that portions of the bill still under development could eliminate the airlines’ fuel tax obligation by more than doubling fuel taxes for general aviation, from $.21 per gallon to $.49 per gallon.

    “User fees should not be mistaken for a modernization plan, and the airlines shouldn’t be given a financial windfall at the expense of general aviation,” Bolen said. “NBAA calls upon senators to abandon any funding approach based on user fees in favor of one that will transform the aviation system so that it best serves all Americans in the years to come.”

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