NATA’s Coyne asks Senate to oppose automobile bailout

National Air Transportation Association (NATA) President James K. Coyne sent a letter to members of the Senate, Dec. 11, encouraging opposition to House bill 7321, which authorizes financial assistance to automobile manufacturers. The Senate plans to consider the bill immediately.

Within the House legislation is a provision that would prohibit the major automobile manufacturers from owning or leasing private aircraft. After reviewing this language, in consultation with Congressional staff, NATA believes that the provision also is intended to preclude the use of commercial, on-demand air carriers, and as participation in fractional ownership programs.

According to Coyne, “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.

“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,” Coyne wrote. “Most of the automakers’ facilities are located in rural areas, [requiring] 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 his letter, Coyne highlighted the importance of general aviation to the U.S. economy and the number of jobs this sector supports.

“I implore you, as a member of the U.S. 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 U.S. 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 … Congressional hearings that focused on the use of private aircraft by the Big Three automakers’ CEOs have tainted an industry that provides an invaluable resource to working America and our economy, I strongly encourage you to oppose H.R. 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.”

To see the entire letter, click here.

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