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Thu, Jun 28, 2007

NBAA Lauds House Leaders' Rejection of Aviation User Fees

Supports Increased Fuel Tax To Fund Aviation System Modernization

The National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) commended aviation policymakers in the House of Representatives Thursday, for introducing Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) funding legislation the group says promotes transformation to the Next Generation Air Traffic System based on established aviation excise taxes rather than a user fee structure.

"These House leaders have demonstrated a tremendous commitment to strengthening the nation's aviation system with legislation that builds on a proven funding mechanism rather than a foreign-style user fee," NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen said.

As ANN reported, the FAA funding bill, titled "The FAA Reauthorization Act of 2007," was introduced by 34 House members Wednesday night, including House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman James Oberstar (D-MN), Committee Ranking Member John Mica (R-FL), Aviation Subcommittee Chairman Jerry Costello (D-IL) and Subcommittee Ranking Member Tom Petri (R-WI).

"These leaders, and the others who support this bill, understand that the aviation system must be modernized to meet capacity demands," Bolen continued, "but that user fees shouldn't be mistaken for a modernization plan."

The nation's big airlines are promoting user fees as a way of shifting billions of their costs onto general aviation and seizing more control of the air traffic system.

In testimony before Congress, Bolen has pointed out that user fees are costly for governments to administer, requiring a large, expensive bureaucracy. Additionally, user fees come with an administrative burden for operators -- the International Air Transport Association (IATA) reports that it costs IATA members from $85 to $125 to process one invoice. User fees can go up when industry can afford it least: In 2002, when air traffic was depressed as a result of the recession and terrorist attacks, Canada raised its user fees to cover its declining revenues.

"The fuel tax has none of these downfalls," Bolen said. "Users pay the tax at the pump, the government easily collects it, and it is a great reflection of the cost airplanes impose on the system. On top of all that, the fuel tax is environmentally friendly, because it encourages the development of cleaner, quieter engines. NBAA applauds these House members for recognizing all of this and preserving fuel tax for funding the FAA."



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