Just days after commending President Obama for his June 28 visit to an Alcoa plant in Davenport, Iowa, Aerospace Industries Association (AIA) president and CEO Marion Blakey found his next day broadside against business aviation “baffling and disturbing.”
In a speech to the Washington Aero Club on June 30, she pointed out that the President had praised Alcoa workers for making the wings of Air Force One–“the biggest corporate jet in America, by the way,” she added–and he said that “almost every airplane in the world has some kind of Alcoa product in it.”
“We were pleased to hear the President acknowledge the importance of Alcoa to our industry from the early flights of the Wright Brothers to our missions in space and protecting our troops in Afghanistan and Iraq today,” Blakey had said following Obama’s trip to Alcoa.
But in the aftermath of his June 29 press conference calling for an end to “tax breaks” for corporate jet owners, AIA quickly issued another press release criticizing his remarks.
“We’re disturbed by President Obama’s remarks on business aviation today,” the aerospace industry trade group said. “It seems odd that he would undermine the aviation industry one day after visiting Alcoa’s factory, and praising the workers who make parts and materials that are critical to producing business jets.”
Blakey and many others were perplexed how Obama could switch gears from lauding Alcoa for making the wings for Air Force One one day and the very next day saying he wants to kill any tax incentive to buy business jets that have Alcoa products in them.
“[T]oday we face stark choices that boil down to one big question: Will we give America a future filled with promise by continuing to invest in U.S. leadership in global aerospace, or will we consign aerospace to the list of great industries that America once led?” she asked.
Calling the U.S. aerospace industry “second to none in the world,” she told the Aero Club that AIA and its members are launching a campaign to explain the critical role of aerospace and defense in the welfare and future of the nation. They will be using media, op-eds and one-on-one meetings with members of Congress, and a website will be launched shortly.
“We think this and more is critical because the aerospace and defense industry is a perishable national asset,” Blakey said. “Consider this: once renowned for its aerospace and defense manufacturing, the UK now buys its fighters, helicopters and military and commercial transports from us and Europe, and struggles to rebuild that base.”
Fittingly, the AIA campaign will be called, “Second to None!”