WASHINGTON, D.C. — As expected, President Obama’s budget released Wednesday, April 10, contained the perennial request for a $100 per flight user fee, a request immediately rejected by general aviation groups.
Even before the budget had been released, a majority of the U.S. House of Representatives had delivered a resounding, bipartisan message to Obama in opposition to his repeated calls for aviation user fees. The letter to the President was signed by 223 members.
Nevertheless, GA groups were taking no chances that attempts to end the gridlock on legislation might let the fee proposal slip in. Aviation’s alphabet groups bounded into the fray in dedicated attempts to block any chance of the fees slipping in during negotiations.
Comments from aviation groups ranged from hard hitting objections to the more politically polite.
Craig Fuller, president of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), declared that imposing user fees is “expensive, cumbersome, and inefficient,” adding that pay-at-the-pump is a much better way to collect general aviation’s fair share of revenue payments.
He added AOPA is disappointed to see the misguided idea resurfacing again after Congress has said it will not tolerate it. Saying user fees were just the latest salvo in a series of attacks on general aviation, he noted, “either the Administration doesn’t recognize the consequences of their actions, or they just don’t care.”
The National Business Aviation Association (NBAA), representing primarily business users of aircraft, renounced the repeated proposal, saying it is unfortunate, but not surprising, that the constant negative rhetoric about business aviation from the White House has once again translated into an onerous policy position from the administration.
Ed Bolen, NBAA president and CEO, said Congress has rejected the President’s last two proposals for the user fees and thanked members of Congress for their actions.
“It is clear,” he added, “that this unwarranted user fee could significantly harm an essential American industry.”
Thomas Hendricks, president and CEO of National Air Transportation Association, said NATA and the entire general aviation industry will work hard to see that the user fee proposal will not see the light of day.
“This user fee proposal will kill jobs, create burdens on businesses, and dampen our economy,” he said. Instead, he added, “we need to embrace ideas that create jobs, reduce burdens imposed on businesses, and improve our nation’s economy.”
Citing the previous times the $100 user fee has been rejected, Hendricks urged it be rejected once and for all.
Pete Bunce, president and CEO of the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA), called Obama’s request for the user fees “more of the same for general aviation: More fees, more taxes, and more attacks on the industry.”
He said GAMA has opposed efforts to establish user fees because “they will negatively impact general aviation and hurt small businesses.”
The Experimental Aircraft Association’s Dick Knapinski said the user fee is “short sighted” and is an idea that seems to have no chance of passage. EAA officials see the proposal as something that doesn’t make sense, he added.
A less pugnacious statement was issued by the Aerospace Industries Association. Marion Blakey, AIA president and CEO, called on Congress to use the President’s budget proposal in the upcoming budget cycle to reverse sequestration budget cuts. AIA’s spokesman Ben Stohr said the budget had multiple good points. He said the association would not make comments on specific parts of the budget proposal and would take no position on the user fee proposal.