WASHINGTON, D.C. — “Enough is enough,” says Jennifer Imo, executive director of the General Aviation Airport Coalition.
“Just when the aviation industry had our backs turned trying to develop strategies to help airport members cope with the chaos of the stalled budget talks, the administration decided to try funding the entire aviation system with new user fees,” she says. “This entire industry, including our GA airport members, is still struggling to recover from the worst economic recession in a generation. Adding user fees now will surely hobble a sector that provides hundreds of thousands of jobs to people all over America, both on and off general aviation airports.”
Association officials say they believe that user fees may look good politically, but are certain to further harm GA. Imo says: “These airports and their sponsors often struggle now to find matching funds for what little FAA AIP funds exist. Further reducing airport traffic numbers, a certainty with the imposition of user fees, will make maintaining airports even more difficult.”
“GAAC believes it’s time the federal government finds ways to save money that actually affect the cost of operating aircraft in the U.S., not simply promises to save precious dollars,” she continues. “Imposing user fees will accomplish little other than create another huge bureaucracy that could transform air traffic controllers into tax collectors. If new revenues need to be raised, the current aviation fuel tax system has proven its value again and again.”
“Adding insult to injury during the discussion of user fees,” Imo said, “is that they’ll realistically bring in so little actual revenue to federal coffers, that their effect on the budget hole the U.S. sits in right now will be minimal at best.”
“What it is time for,” Imo said, “is for FAA to show us the data — though a Congressionally-funded GAO study — that clearly explains the cost savings of the NextGen system we’ve been hearing about for decades. With those numbers in hand, the association would most likely support phasing out costly ground-based navigation systems — VOR, ILS and NDB — as we move into a NextGen future.”
The General Aviation Airport Coalition preserves and promotes general aviation airports across the United States, with a unifying voice to support appropriate legislation and policies. GAAC also helps airports communicate their economic value to constituents, and provides a forum for GA airport stakeholders to share best practices and materials to help in the day-to-day operations and management of GA airports.