Suggests BizAv Users Fly American Instead
At a luncheon speech before the Executives' Club of Chicago
Wednesday, American Airlines CEO Gerald Arpey (below) joined the
chorus of voices from domestic airlines advocating user fees for
business aviation traffic as a means to pay for an upgraded air
traffic control network.
"To a beacon, a satellite or a computer a blip is a blip, and
costs are determined by the number of blips being managed," Arpey
said, arguing that a small business jet carrying just a few people
puts the same strain on air traffic control as an American 777.
Arpey also put forth his own take on the current system of
funding ATC in the US, in which Arpey said commercial airlines pay
90 percent of ATC costs while using two-thirds of its services...
whereas business aviation pays five percent of the cost, but uses
19 percent of its services.
"Crazy as it sounds, under the current system, the airlines --
one of our country's most important, but least healthy industries
-- are actually subsidizing the corporate travel of other --
presumably much healthier -- entities, as well as individuals who
can afford their own jets," Arpey said.
The Chicago Sun-Times reports that
-- realizing a few of those individuals were likely in the audience
-- Arpey suggested a way for them to avoid paying any future
user fees: that they fly American instead. (We can only guess
the reaction he got from that statement -- Ed.)
Of course, a system based on user fees is opposed by the general
and business aviation sectors -- including the National Business
NBAA president Ed Bolen told the Chicago Sun-Times that to treat
all airplanes the same -- as Arpey suggested -- would ignore the
fact that the commercial airlines' hub-and-spoke routing system
dictates the cost of the air traffic control system.
"The controllers are not there because of business aviation,"
NBAA president Ed Bolen told Sun-Times. "The problem is 50
airplanes all departing O'Hare at 9 o'clock."