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Wed, May 02, 2007

FAA Rebukes Group's Claims Against Funding Plan, Part Two

Stresses Fees Would NOT Be Imposed For Flying Through Terminal Airspace

In a telephone conversation with Aero-News last week, representatives with the Federal Aviation Administration rebuked many of the points presented by the Alliance for Aviation Across America, in that group's rebuttal to the FAA's policy document released April 23 on the subject of user fees. Over the next several days, ANN will present those arguments, and the FAA's contrasting position on each issue.

  • Read Part One Here

As Aero-News reported, the Alliance says the FAA's bill clearly designates user fee taxes may be administered on any aircraft flying through Class B or any other type of terminal airspace, including small planes. But FAA Economist Weingart emphatically states the FAA has no plans to do so.

"We don't propose to include fees for GA to fly through Class B," Weingart tells ANN, "or any other type of airspace. The intent in everything we've been saying about the proposal is the fees would only apply to GA if they actually land or depart at a large hub airport.

"As we said in the Fact Sheet... we recognize based on the feedback from the stakeholder community some of the legislative language on that isn't as clear as we intended. We are certainly agreeable on suggestions on how to clarify that language."

"And you would not be charged any fees for weather services, or flight following, or any of that," added Melanie Alvord, Assistant Administrator for Communications. "Because that is safety related, we included it in the General Fund contributions to funding."

The FAA also takes issue with the Alliance's claim that the FAA's proposal calls for $1.36 billion to be appropriated for services to collect user fees in the first 60 days.

"That has nothing to do with administrative costs of billing and collecting those fees," Weingart said. "What we realized in developing the proposal that we'd have a one-time transition issue, because today the excise taxes -- which are primarily ticket taxes on airline tickets -- get paid to the government before the airplane flies (as tickets are often purchased beforehand -- Ed.)

"Under a user fee system, typically we would bill after the service is provided," he continues, "and like most bills, you would have 20 days or 30 days to pay. So the revenues from user fees would actually be flowing in probably one month to two months after the service is provided -- so we have a one-time gap in revenue that needs to be filled, and that's what that $1.36 billion is intended to do.

"In fact, there is actually a provision in the bill that requires us to pay back that $1.36 billion in the first year of the new system."

Coming Wednesday -- The FAA Says Congress Will NOT Lose Oversight Privileges
FMI: www.faa.gov, www.aviationacrossamerica.org/

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