ATA President Says His Beef Is With Corporate Jets
It still comes down to user fees. AOPA President Phil Boyer and
the airlines' representative, James May of the Air Transport
Association (ATA), squared off Tuesday for a debate on the FAA
funding legislation. AOPA and ATA are the two biggest guns of the
aviation user community, and they got to speak face to face in
Washington, DC before the monthly meeting of the Washington Aero
Boyer wasted no time in making an attack, stating every time it
came time to renew the FAA funding legislation, the airlines always
tried for a giant tax cut for themselves and more control over the
nation's air traffic control system.
"And this time, the airlines have manufactured every crisis they
can to put the ill on general aviation," Boyer told the audience of
congressional staff members, FAA officials, and national news
But Boyer also said AOPA and the airlines were very close on
many issues, including the need to modernize the ATC system.
"Our only concern is the introduction of a user fee to any
segment of aviation, whether it be $5 or $25," said Boyer,
referring specifically to the Senate's FAA funding bill. "Even if
it were just the airlines [paying user fees], to put that structure
in place would be a slippery slope. As we've seen around the world,
fees would eventually trickle down to general aviation, with
devastating economic results."
Somewhat shockingly, May said he was willing to drop user fees
for GA. "I've never advocated a collection formula," he said, "the
collection method should be wide open to the user."
However, May also continued to insist corporate aviation was not
"I don't have any grief with Phil at all," said May. Piston GA
is exempt from user fees in the Senate bill "and I support that. My
beef quite frankly is with the corporate jets. I'm just trying to
find a little balance from some folks who can easily afford to pay
their fair share."
Boyer used an e-mail from an AOPA member to answer the "fair
share" question. "The air traffic control system was built for the
flying public. The users aren't the airlines or GA, but the people
who fly inside those silver tubes."
When you went to the drive-in to watch a movie —-- Boyer
said, using the member's analogy -- each person in the car had to
buy a ticket. The cost for supplying the parking spot wasn't any
different if there were two or six people in the car, but each
person got the benefit of seeing the movie.
Boyer also pointed out that if paying one's "fair share" was the
only criteria for funding a transportation system, only 15 states
would have interstate and federal highways. The federal roads in
all the other states were "subsidized" by drivers in 15 states.
"We have the best air transportation system in the world," said
Boyer. "Let's consider very carefully before we muck up a funding
system that has served us so well."