Industry groups blasted an FAA funding bill sent to Congress this week, saying the new proposed fee structure is unfair. FAA chief Marion Blakey said the proposed legislation, called the Next Generation Air Transportation System Financing Reform Act of 2007, would replace the decades-old system of collecting ticket taxes with a cost-based, stable and reliable funding program that relies on a combination of user-fees, taxes and a federal government contribution to support the development of a new, satellite-based, air traffic control system, called NextGen.
“This new proposal will make flying more convenient for millions of travelers,” said Secretary of Transportation Mary Peters. “Anyone who has experienced the frustration and inconvenience of a delayed flight should take a very close look at what we’re proposing.”
The bill will eliminate the domestic passenger ticket tax and reduce the international arrival and departure tax by 50 percent.
The legislative proposal makes several changes, which the FAA said are designed to improve the ability of airports to meet capital needs and proposes to reform the Passenger Facility Charge Program to enable large and medium sized airports to raise local funds for construction projects. It also will restructure the Airport Improvement Program by better targeting Federal funds.
“The changes proposed by the FAA would overthrow a funding structure that has proven to be stable, reliable and efficient for several decades,” said National Business Aviation Association President and CEO Ed Bolen. “The fact is, the FAA’s scheme promotes radical changes in order to provide a giveaway to the big airlines.”
The General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) blasted the user-fee provision, saying the new funding mechanism would not solve the shortfalls.
“No one is more committed to the modernization of the national airspace system than aviation manufacturers,” said Pete Bunce, GAMA’s President and CEO. “We must move past this ill-advised user fee proposal and focus the efforts of our industry and government partners to design and implement a modernized air traffic management system.”
Airlines, led by the Airline Transport Association, said the proposal is a solid first step, but it “has deep concerns” about a number of provisions including the elimination of the corporate jet subsidy, establishment of bonding authority and confusion over congested airspace versus congested airports.
“ATA views the administration’s proposal as a starting point for Congress to draw upon as it begins its consideration of the crucial future course of our nation’s air transport system,” said aid ATA President and CEO James C. May.