Commercial

Groups Form Anti-User-Fee Coalition

By Tish Drake | April 12, 2007

A group of businesses ranging from agriculture to small business to local governments is banding together against the FAA’s user-fee proposal. The Alliance for Aviation Across America, which includes the National Business Aviation Association, Aircraft Owners & Pilots Association, General Aviation Manufacturers Association, Aircraft Electronics Association and National Association of Aviation Officials, officially launched in April, bringing its message to Capitol Hill to dissuade lawmakers from approving the user-fee proposal set forth in the FAA’s funding authorization proposal introduced in February. In its Next Generation Air Transportation System Financing Reform Act of 2007, the FAA would replace the decades-old system of collecting ticket and arrival/departure taxes with a cost-based program founded on user fees and fuel taxes to support development of the Next Generation Air Transportation System. “Our coalition is here to send a clear message to lawmakers that we stand united against a radical “user fees” proposal which would decimate businesses and communities around our country through a huge tax hike.  This special interest legislation would benefit no one but the big commercial airlines,” said Gene Wright, Mayor of Quinwood, W.Va., pilot and coalition member. Still, members of the coalition are not opposed to change; it is simply opposed to the drastic series of changes sought by the FAA. “Status quo is not an option,” said AOPA President Phil Boyer. “It’s the draconian idea of completely revamping the system that we’re against.” The legislation would eliminate the domestic passenger ticket tax and reduce the international arrival and departure tax by 50 percent. It would reform the Passenger Facility Charge Program to enable large- and medium-sized airports to raise local funds for construction projects. The Air Transport Association (ATA), representing airlines, described the funding bill as a good first step that recognizes "the inequity of forcing airlines and their customers to subsidize other system users." Currently, airlines contribute 94 percent of revenue to the trust fund but drive less than 73 percent of air-traffic control costs, ATA says. Nevertheless, ATA expressed "deep concern" over some elements of the program, including a congested-airspace fee tied to large airports and the use of aircraft weight as a factor in assessing cost-based funding. For related news

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