President's Airline Plan Includes Call For Higher GA Taxes
Buried in President Bush's call last week for a set of sweeping measures aimed at
combating airline flight delays was an all-too
familiar appeal for higher taxes and fee on general aviation,
according to the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association.
"If we really want to solve this problem, it's time for Congress
to modernize the FAA, and we've given them a blueprint to do so,"
said Bush, referring to the administration's FAA funding bill that
would increase GA avgas taxes by 263 percent and impose user
The President also praised Senators Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) and
Trent Lott (R-MS) as people in Congress "who understand the need to
act." Little wonder, that... as both have also shown predilections
towards acting unilaterally.
As ANN reported earlier this
year, both senators threatened general aviation pilots
with repercussions, if the blanket user fee for pilots of turbine
aircraft filing an IFR flight plan -- as spelled out in the
Rockefeller-Lott Senate FAA funding bill (S.1300) -- wasn't
adopted. "There are ways to do that, and we will find those ways,"
Rockefeller said menacingly in July.
Bush also called for "congestion pricing" -- charging aircraft
higher fees to land during busy times, or auctioning the right to
take off or land at a specific time to the highest bidder. Though
many assume those fees are for commercial airliners... there's
nothing stopping the government from imposing those same fees on
business jets operating at busier airports, or even smaller GA
"The president's statement is a reminder that the FAA funding
issue is far from resolved, and that there is still the possibility
of a bill coming out of Congress that would be harmful to general
aviation," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "The Senate needs to act
and pass the American Infrastructure Investment and Improvement Act
of 2007 that came out of the Finance Committee last September."
The House of Representatives has
already passed its FAA funding bill, H.R.2881, the FAA
Reauthorization Act of 2007. But two different Senate committees
are in disagreement over user fees versus taxes, airline tax
breaks, and some other issues.
Those disagreements will not be resolved before the Congress
goes home for the holidays on December 14, meaning Congress will
likely pass a "continuing resolution" to keep the FAA operating
into the first part of next year.
"That means we'll pick up the FAA funding fight again in
January," said Boyer. "We'll renew our efforts to convince the
Senate to pass an FAA funding (authorization) bill without user
fees. We cannot modernize ATC and build new runways without it.
Boyer also implored AOPA members "to contact their senators when
the time is right" to remind them that pilots vote, too.