Claims Corporate Aviation Is 'Subsidized' Under Current
There are (at least) two sides to every story. On Thursday, Air
Transportation Association President James May told the Aviation
Subcommittee of the House Committee on Transportation and
Infrastructure of the critical need to implement a 21st century
national air traffic control (ATC) system -- and what he considers
the most equitable way to fund such a plan.
In congressional testimony, May stated a modernized,
satellite-based ATC system would facilitate safety and capacity
improvements that would benefit all users -- general aviation,
corporate aviation, commercial airlines and the military.
May was clear on one point: inaction was not an option.
"Without prompt and thorough modernization, the ATC system will
progressively asphyxiate," said May. "The stakes are enormous; the
public- interest considerations are clear; and the need for prompt,
decisive action is undeniable. If we do not act now, irrefutably we
will see many more delayed flights and airspace gridlock."
May (below, right) stressed to match a modernized ATC system,
Congress must also reform the current FAA funding plan, that he
says unfairly taxes airlines and their customers, while subsidizing
corporate aviation. May testified that the ATC system must be
funded such that revenue keeps our nation's air commerce vibrant
and responsive to consumer needs and can be provided fairly and
May's testimony laid out four
financing principles: cost-based usage fees; a robust general fund
contribution; financing authority -- such as the authority to issue
bonds -- to pay for expanding capital needs; and cost savings from
improved ATC system efficiencies.
The ATA chief said such a funding system would
enable the ATC system to realize the full potential of emerging
technologies, while equitably distributing costs among system users
in relation to the services they consume.
"A tripling of the fuel tax will force airline passengers to pay
$1 billion annually to general aviation airports under the Airport
Improvement Program. These are airports where commercial carriers
do not fly and that is unacceptable," said May.
"There is no correlation today between revenue collected and
services consumed," he added. "Corporate aircraft cannot continue
to get a free ride, congest the system and pass the costs they
impose on to airline passengers and shippers."
May pointed out that other countries have
introduced similar funding schemes to modernize their ATC
systems (which, it must be said, have stifled general aviation
traffic in countries such as Canada and Australia --
"This is neither novel nor revolutionary. Congress faces a
historic opportunity to ensure that our air transportation system
keeps pace with global aviation," said May.