Senate Nears Vote on FAA Funding
Prodded by perceived FAA failings and the threat of summer air travel delays, the Senate Transportation and Finance Committees reached agreement late last week on how to fund the FAA for the next four years. If the bill is approved by the full Senate today, it is expected to keep avgas taxes at the current rate of 19.3 cents per gallon but increase jet fuel taxes to 36 cents per gallon, up from 21.8 cents. While the bill would raise $260 million annually for modernizing the ATC system, it eliminates a proposed $25-per-flight surcharge on all jet and most turboprop operations. A bill passed by the House in September contains the same 36-cents-per-gallon tax on jet fuel but also increases the avgas tax by 4.8 cents a gallon. It too features no new user fees. After the Senate approves its final measure, it will then go to a House-Senate conference committee to resolve the differences between the two versions. One sticking point could be labor provisions in the House bill, which could draw a veto from President Bush.