They're At It Again...
Don't think for a moment just because it appears likely a
permanent solution to fund the FAA is now at least 15 months off,
that the Air Transport Association is taking a break from spreading
its rhetoric against general aviation and, in particular, corporate
aircraft. The lobbying group for the nation's largest airlines
recently sent a mass email to various news organizations, stating
passengers unfortunate enough to be stuffed into commercial
airliners were subsidizing corporate travelers attending the
"Just two weeks ago, Big Brown galloped past his competitors and
easily won the Kentucky Derby," the ATA writes. "Many of us watched
the winner’s circle celebrations on television while others
flew on luxurious private jets to watch in person. Did you know
that airline passengers were subsidizing these posh trips to the
"Airlines and their passengers paid more than 90 percent of the
costs of running the air traffic control system but accounted for
only 66 percent of system operations," the group continues.
"Business jets, however, underpaid for the air traffic control
services they used by nearly $1 billion. Does that sound fair to
you? What if you were told that during Derby weekend, the
overwhelming majority of the jets in the skies over Kentucky were
The ATA then continues its familiar "us-versus-them" rhetoric...
alas, sadly, this time without the benefit of cutesy cartoon
"...This unfair practice is not just limited to the Kentucky
Derby -- private luxury planes account for nearly two-thirds of all
jet aircraft in the United States. And it is not as though these
jet-setters cannot afford to pay their fair share," the group
pointedly adds. "Private jet operators do not seem to be affected
by the tight economy like the rest of us -- orders for new private
jets are up 41 percent from early 2007 to early 2008."
Let's be blunt here -- despite invoking the current,
perilous state of the US economy, no one here honestly
believes ATA CEO James May (shown above, right)
is worried where the money's coming from to fill his gas tank,
or to put food on his table -- especially as he was recently named one of the most
influential lobbyists in Washington (along with former
FAA Administrator Marion Blakey.) It's not outrageous to
assume he's not hurting for petty cash.
Ditto for the CEOs of
the very airlines May's organization represents... despite those
carriers' well-publicized economic travails, and their efforts to
eck out every last penny from their workforces, and of
course their customers...
Nevertheless, Ed Bolen, president of the National Business
Aviation Association, took the high road in refuting the ATA's
"The ATA's suggestion that GA air traffic at a well-planned
weekend event in a single location was somehow problematic is
simply laughable," Bolen said. "The fact is, delays are caused by
the airlines over-scheduling flights 365 days a year at big city
airports all across the country. An official with the Department of
Transportation recently provided a clear example of the airlines'
over-scheduling practices to Congress by pointing to one airline
that scheduled '56 departures in a 15-minute window at the
Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport, about three times the number of
planes that the airport has the capacity to handle.'
"It's also disingenuous for the airlines to suggest that general
aviation won't contribute to aviation system modernization, when
the GA community supports legislation that contains a 65-percent
fuel tax increase on GA to help fund the Federal Aviation
Administration and transform the aviation system," Bolen (below)
As ANN reported, that
legislation stalled on the floor of the US Senate two weeks ago...
the victim to partisan bickering amongst many of the same lawmakers
ATA's members have paid good money for to support airline