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Thu, Dec 11, 2008

NATA's Coyne Encourages Senate To Vote Against Auto Bailout

Says Language Against Private Aviation 'Sets Bad Precedent'

National Air Transportation Association (NATA) President James K. Coyne sent a letter Thursday to leaders in the US Senate, encouraging their opposition to HR 7321, a bill to authorize financial assistance to eligible automobile manufacturers. The Senate is due to consider the bill later in the day, or Friday.

As ANN reported Wednesday, contained within this legislation is a provision that would prohibit the major auto manufacturers from owning or leasing private aircraft. After reviewing this language, in consultation with Congressional staff, the association believes that this provision is also intended to preclude the use of commercial on-demand air carriers as well as participation in fractional ownership programs. 

"Approving the legislation with this provision sets a damaging precedent that will detrimentally affect the thousands of small businesses in this country that provide air transportation using general aviation aircraft as well as the small businesses that support these types of operations," Coyne said. "Expressly prohibiting all air travel that is not on a scheduled commercial airline is an unreasonable restriction on the auto industry and any other industry with a diverse rural manufacturing and supplier network. Most of the automakers' facilities are located in rural areas, which requires efficient transportation that the airlines, especially as they cut back on routes, can't provide. Chartering an aircraft on a government-licensed on-demand air carrier offers corporations unparalleled speed and access at far lower costs than any form of ownership."

In the letter, Coyne also highlights the importance of general aviation to the US economy and the number of jobs this sector supports.

"I implore you, as a member of the US Senate, to consider the more than 1.265 million jobs created by the general aviation industry, many of which are supported by these small aviation businesses and play a critical role in our American economy. These jobs are placed at significant risk if the federal government bars corporations from using their services. Using legislation intended to save jobs in one sector of the economy to impact jobs negatively in another, equally important segment, is unconscionable. The aviation businesses represented by NATA will all suffer financially if Congress approves this legislation with its underlying precedent that the use of private aircraft by Corporate America is not acceptable."

Coyne concluded with a request to members of the US Senate to consider carefully how, because of poor public perception of the use of private aircraft, this bill's unintended consequences will hamper the general aviation industry.

"While it is regrettable that this month's Congressional hearings that focused on the use of private aircraft by the Big 3 automakers' CEOs have tainted an industry that provides an invaluable resource to working America and our economy, I strongly encourage you to oppose HR 7321. The small aviation businesses that are the backbone of the aviation industry, especially during these difficult economic times, should not suffer from the unintended consequences of this legislation."

FMI: www.nata.aero, Read Coyne's Letter (.pdf)

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