User Fees Likely in FY2013 Budget, Say Bizav Groups

 - February 3, 2012, 3:10 AM

With the Obama Administration doggedly promoting its proposal for a $100-per-flight user fee for millions of flights by turbine-powered general aviation aircraft, GA interests are organizing continued opposition.

“I fully expect that, a few weeks from now when President Obama proposes his initial Fiscal Year 2013 budget, he’ll include a $100-per-flight user fee,” said AOPA president and CEO Craig Fuller. “Needless to say, this proposal must be defeated if general aviation as we know it is to survive in the years to come.”

NBAA president and CEO Ed Bolen 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.”

To win this fight, and other critical legislative and regulatory battles this year, GA will need “a huge amount of help from our friends in Congress,” Fuller warned. Asking for contributions for AOPA’s Political Action Committee, he added, “We can’t expect these elected officials to go to bat for our cause if we can’t help them in the next election.”

Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.), whose district encompasses Wichita, has already created a Web site called to gather signatures petitioning President Obama to stop his ongoing, often vitriolic, criticism of general aviation.

A freshman in Congress, Pompeo has already become a leader on several pieces of legislation supporting GA, as well as taking on such issues as the Air Force’s decision to eliminate Hawker Beechcraft from a sizeable contract competition in favor of an offshore manufacturer.

Grassroots Advocacy

Meanwhile, in response to a petition on the White House’s “We the People” Web site, the Office of Management and Budget reaffirmed the Obama Administration’s commitment to its proposed $100-per-flight fee for use of air traffic services, claiming that the fee would both “ensure that everyone is paying their fair share” and help reduce the deficit.

AOPA member Kevin Mossey of Marion, Iowa, started the petition on September 23 in response to a White House deficit-reduction proposal that would impose a $100-per-flight fee for flights in controlled airspace.

The petition pointed out that the existing system of collecting revenue through excise taxes allows more of that revenue to go toward the cost of operating the ATC system. It also explained that the fuel taxes more accurately reflect the amount of ATC services, “as a flight from NYC to LA will require more controller time than a flight from NYC to Boston.”

Nearly 9,000 people signed the petition. In response, Dana Hyde, associate director for general government programs at the OMB, said that the proposed $100 per flight would generate an estimated $11 billion over 10 years, reducing the deficit and more equitably sharing the cost of air traffic services across the aviation user community. All piston aircraft, military aircraft, public aircraft, air ambulances, aircraft operating outside of controlled airspace and Canada-to-Canada flights would be exempted.

Hyde argued that under current law, a large commercial aircraft flying from Los Angeles to San Francisco pays between 21 and 33 times more in fuel taxes than a corporate jet flying the same route and using same FAA air traffic services.