Thu, Apr 26, 2012
OMB Says It Plans To Press On With Per-Flight Charge, Ignoring Industry And Congress
Despite a letter signed by nearly half of the U.S. House of Representatives opposing aviation user fees, the White House, through its Office of Management and Budget (OMB), has indicated it plans to press ahead with its call for a $100 per flight charge on airline and business aviation. Congress remains steadfastly opposed to such a funding scheme, having rejected numerous calls over the years from both Democratic and Republican administrations for a fee-based funding mechanism.
“It is amazing that every time the government gets itself into a self-induced economic crisis it turns to aviation as a source of revenue, even though we are already paying more than our fair share via the existing system,” said Matt Zuccaro, President of HAI, in the associations online electronic newsletter.
Reps. Sam Graves (R-Mo.), co-chair of the House GA Caucus, Thomas Petri (R-Wis.) and Jerry Costello (D-Ill.), the chair and ranking member of the House Aviation Subcommittee, and 194 other members of Congress recently sent a letter to President Obama saying, “Imposing a $100 per flight fee on commercial and general aviation is the wrong approach, and we respectfully request that you abandon this idea once and for all.”
But Acting Director of the Office of Management and Budget Jeffery Zients has now responded, trying once again to convince Congress that all aircraft impose an equal burden on the air traffic control system, saying, “the Administration proposes to establish a $100 per flight fee which would… more equitably share the cost of air traffic services across the aviation user community.” The argument once again ignores the fact that business aviation usually operates from non-air carrier airports and require less handling from controllers.
The letter also tries to employ the divide-and-conquer tactic that has failed in past attempts to impose user fees. Zients notes that, “piston aircraft, military aircraft, public aircraft, air ambulances, aircraft operating outside of controlled airspace, and Canada-to-Canada flights would be exempted.” Not mentioned specifically, but also exempted, are helicopter operations.
But the general aviation industry has remained united against user fees on any segment of the industry because hard experience from around the world has taught that once user fees are imposed on any segment, they eventually trickle down to all segments.
“Although helicopter missions involve minimal use of air traffic control services or airport infrastructure, HAI remains strongly united with the entire aviation industry in opposition to this proposal,” concluded Zuccaro. “We will continue to work with our industry partners and GA supporters in Congress to turn back this latest ill conceived push for user fees”.
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