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Fri, Feb 11, 2011

Senate Considering Amendments To FAA Reauthorization Bill

Senators: FAA Bill Is "Too Important" To Be Delayed Again

As the Congressional debate over a long-term FAA funding bill again gains momentum in Washington, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and other senators have said the FAA bill is too important to be delayed again, which may spell trouble for an amendment to expand the number of long-range slots available at Washington's Reagan National Airport (DCA). A group of senators has been working on a compromise, but Reid has set February 14 as the deadline for a deal to be reached. He intends to file cloture on the legislation on that date, meaning that if no amendment is filed then the number of long-distance slots will remain the same.

The Senate Finance Committee did a mark-up of a bill reauthorizing the Airport and Airway Trust Fund, or the Aviation Trust Fund, through Sept. 30, 2013 that will be included in the FAA reauthorization. The panel approved a measure to establish the Air Traffic Control System Modernization Account, housed in the Aviation Trust Fund, to pay for the Next Gen air traffic control system. Funds for this account would come through raising the tax on jet fuel from 22 to 36 cents per gallon—a move expected to raise $400 million annually.

The legislation would also impose a surcharge of 14.1 cents per gallon on fractional fuel to ensure that funding for Next Gen is drawn from all sectors of general aviation. Further, the bill would clearly state that the tax exemption for small aircraft operating on non-established lines is not applicable to jet engine aircraft, keeping the exemption intact for air tour operators who meet the criteria. In addition, there is a measure that would prevent transportation providers from including amounts besides charges payable to a government entity in the disclosure of passenger taxes on tickets and in advertising. The legislation would also limit funds obtainable by the Aviation Trust Fund to 90 percent of predicted revenues each fiscal year.



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