Thu, Jul 27, 2006
NBAA President and CEO
Ed Bolen joined leaders from several other general aviation
associations Tuesday in a united front against the creation of new
aviation user fees.
Bolen and the other association leaders participated in a forum
hosted by the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) focusing on a
proposal by the Air Transport Association (ATA) to shift $2 billion
of the airlines' costs onto the general aviation segment through
the implementation of user fees. The ATA is the lobbying
association for the commercial airlines.
"Shift costs, control the system -- that's at the
heart of the ATA's proposal," Bolen said. "The ATA would like
everyone to believe that all 'blips' on an air traffic controller's
radar screen are the same, so all aircraft in the system should be
treated and charged equally. This is in spite of the fact that
respected figures in government and industry have repeatedly
concluded that it's the airlines, and their hub-and-spoke networks,
that drive the costs of the aviation system.
"Here's the bottom line -- user fees are a form of tax, and if
we're not vigilant, the ATA will tax users out of the system,"
Bolen continued. "They will also do everything possible to take
Congress out of the equation when it comes to managing the air
traffic control system. The ATA believes Congress is part of the
problem, but the general aviation community understands that
Congress is needed to ensure that communities across the country
have access to the strongest aviation system in the world."
The EAA's user fee
forum was conducted amidst the association's annual AirVenture
Convention, held on the grounds surrounding Wittman Regional
Airport in Oshkosh, WI. A large audience, including representatives
from several media organizations, was in attendance.
The issue of user fees for aviation has arisen because a multi-year
package for Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) funding and
programs will be considered next year by Congress. The ATA is
looking to this "reauthorization" process as an opportunity to
shift from the traditional way the FAA has been funded to one based
on user fees. General aviation currently contributes for its use of
the aviation system through fuel taxes, which are simple to pay and
efficient to collect, and serve as an effective proxy for use of
the aviation system by general aviation aircraft.
The AirVenture user fee panel was moderated by EAA President Tom
Poberezny, and included Bolen, Aircraft Owners and Pilots
Association President Phil Boyer, General Aviation Manufacturers
Association President Pete Bunce, Cessna Chairman and CEO Jack
Pelton, and Cirrus Co-founder and CEO Alan Klapmeier.
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