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Wed, Dec 10, 2008

NBAA Fears Auto Assistance Package Language Could Have 'Unintended Consequences'

Does Proposed Bailout Ban ALL Uses Of Corporate Aircraft?

On Wednesday, National Business Aviation Association President and CEO Ed Bolen expressed his concern that language regarding the use of business aviation, as included in a proposed auto industry financial assistance package being considered by the US House of Representatives, could have unintended consequences.

This is the statement, from Section 12(b)(4) of the bailout bill: "During the period in which any financial assistance provided under this Act to any eligible automobile manufacturer is outstanding, the eligible automobile manufacturer may not own or lease any private passenger aircraft, or have any interest in such aircraft, except that such eligible automobile manufacturer shall not be treated as being in violation of this provision with respect to any aircraft or interest in any aircraft that was owned or held by the manufacturer immediately before receiving such assistance, as long as the recipient demonstrates to the satisfaction of the President’s designee that all reasonable steps are being taken to sell or divest such aircraft or interest."

In a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Bolen (right) points out that the language in the bill regarding business aviation "appears to prohibit the use of business aviation in ALL situations, including when it is the sole mode of transportation available to a business, or it is the most prudent and cost-effective solution to a given transportation challenge."

Bolen's letter continues: "While we understand the intent of Congress to address a specific situation dealing with the auto industry, we believe that the broad wording of the provision could be misinterpreted as suggesting that Congress does not recognize the critical importance of this mode of transportation to the success of US businesses facing unprecedented international competition, the economic development of small towns and rural communities, and the jobs of hundreds of thousands
of US workers."

Bolen's organization is particularly sensitive to the issue, as business aviation has become a whipping boy on Capitol Hill during contentious hearings over whether the federal government should provide billions in taxpayer funds to rescue the near-defunct automakers. Lawmakers derided the CEOs of Ford, GM and Chrysler for flying to Washington last month, hats in hand, each onboard their own corporate jets... which all departed at roughly the same time from Detroit Metro.

As ANN reported, Ford and GM have since drastically slashed their own corporate flight operations, in an effort to pander for support from Congress... which apparently worked, despite the fact many lawmakers also use bizav for their transportation needs.

Bolen's letter "reminds" Speaker Pelosi of many reasons that businesses and communities rely on business aviation... including the lack of availability of scheduled airline service when needed.

"With about 100 US cities having lost airline service in the past year, it's easy to understand why so many smaller towns have found business aviation to be a critical lifeline for their economic development. Nobody wants to see a company be forced to move simply because its community has lost its commercial airline service," the letter states.

Bolen's letter also points out that the business aviation community is comprised of a diverse composite of hundreds of thousands of people. "These workers include schedulers, dispatchers, maintenance technicians, pilots, training professionals, insurers, and many other disciplines." Bolen further notes, "Congress should recognize that these are good jobs, performed by good people. The work they do matters to the companies they work for, the communities they live in, and our nation as a whole."

Bolen concludes his letter by pointing out that the Association understands the importance of strong federal stewardship of any federal monies provided to the US auto companies. "However," the letter asserts, "We urge you to craft this legislation in a manner which does not inadvertently harm another critical US industry. We want to be careful not to hurt the ability of American companies to do the things that allow them to keep people working and to compete."

FMI: Read The Letter (.pdf), Read The House Bailout Bill (.pdf)



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