Awaits 'Explanation' Of FAA Funding Proposal, Including User
The Fiscal Year 2008 (FY2008) budget submitted to Congress Monday by President
Bush continues to stir comments from aviation letter
groups, with National Air Transport Association President James K.
Coyne the latest to weigh in on the controversial plan.
Coyne (above) says the budget request would cut the Airport
Improvement Program (AIP) by nearly $800 million from its current
enacted level. The budget proposes funding the popular program at a
level of $2.75 billion, compared to the $3.5 billion under which
the program currently operates. The overall FAA budget request of
$14 billion is slightly more than the $13.8 billion requested last
"We are disappointed that, once again, the President’s
budget request significantly underfunds FAA programs, including the
critical Airport Improvement Program," Coyne told ANN. "By
shortchanging such a valuable program, the Administration
guarantees that large airports will receive a disproportionate
amount of AIP funds at the expense of rural and general aviation
airports. Such a low funding level would essentially eliminate
support for general aviation airports within AIP, a program that
for some airports is the only guaranteed funding they receive. It
is imperative that Congress restores AIP funding to a level of at
least the $3.5 billion currently in place."
Coyne states the proposal calls for radical changes to the
Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA's) funding stream, including
the elimination of passenger ticket taxes in favor of a "user fee"
system. The details of the new financing plan were not released,
and are expected to be submitted to Congress sometime this month as
part of the FAA's reauthorization proposal.
"We also have concerns regarding the
FAA's proposal to alter the current trust fund financing system
radically in favor of a new, user fee system," Coyne said. "The
current system of excise and fuel taxes has proven successful for
decades, and trust fund revenues continue to increase. Before this
radical proposal can be seriously considered, the FAA must answer
important questions about its plan, including providing more
information regarding the agency's blueprint for modernizing the
air traffic control (ATC) system. The FAA also needs to demonstrate
to all aviation stakeholders that the economic impact of a new user
fee system will not cripple or unfairly disadvantage any sector of
the aviation industry. The ATC system as it exists today is the
safest and most efficient in the world and, so far, I have yet to
see a strong argument to support radical change in how it is
"Nevertheless, I look forward to reviewing the FAA's new funding
proposal," Coyne concluded. "We will carefully evaluate the FAA's
new plan, and analyze the financial impact the proposal would have
on all NATA members. We look forward to sharing the real-world
result of that economic analysis with the FAA and Congress as we
move forward with the FAA reauthorization process."