WASHINGTON, D.C. — Aviation groups are gearing up for another fight against the $100-per-flight charge for use of air traffic services after the White House rejected a petition calling for dropping the proposal.
Dana Hyde, associate director for General Government Programs, said in a letter rejecting the petition that “the Obama Administration believes it’s essential that those who benefit from our world-class aviation system help pay for its ongoing operation.” Hyde said the proposed $100-per-flight fee would generate an estimated $11 billion dollars over 10 years.
Current proposals are that only users of general aviation jet aircraft would pay the fee but observers of U.S. government programs through the years doubt this limitation would continue if a fee structure of this type is started.
The rejection of the petition to eliminate the proposed fee was announced Friday before the Martin Luther King Jr. three-day weekend. This is a common practice of timing unpopular announcements before a weekend so little news coverage would be given and other news events would push the unpopular news in the background before a new week of heavy reporting. General aviation groups, however, are not letting the news die. Ed Bolen, president and CEO of the National Business Aviation association, and Craig Fuller, president and CEO of Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, quickly cited GA’s contribution through fuel taxes and a willingness to accept an increase in that tax.
Hyde’s letter said a commercial airliner flying between Los Angeles and San Francisco would pay between 21 and 33 times the fuel tax paid by a corporate jet flying the same route. AOPA’s Fuller said this is false. The current 21.9-cents-per gallon tax on jet fuel provides $87 in fuel taxes for a Gulfstream IV business jet flying the same route while the 4.4 cents-per-gallon paid by an airliner would produce only $68. NBAA’s Bolen was equally critical of the administration’s position. He said “Unfortunately, it appears the White House will continue supporting its position on user fees by promoting the tired rhetoric that disparages general aviation, when it should instead be promoting the industry, and the jobs, exports and economic development it generates.”
Congress would have to approve the administration’s request to access the $100 per flight fee. Hyde’s letter said, “We look forward to working collaboratively with the Congress and the aviation stakeholder community on the issue.”
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