International aircraft operators must constantly be on guard for new and, in some cases, old fees being assessed on them as countries seek new ways to squeeze more money from airport and airspace users, Rick Snider, senior manager of contracts & compliance for Rockwell Collins flight information solutions commercial systems, told attendees yesterday at a taxes and fees session at the NBAA Schedulers & Dispatchers Conference in San Antonio, Texas.
He highlighted some of the latest plans to increase the burden on private aviation operators, including the expected imposition of the UK air passenger duty (UKAPD) per passenger for all UK departures starting April 1. While primarily intended for commercial operators, private aircraft passengers, it is believed, will be required to pay twice the highest standard rate an airline passenger would be assessed, according to Snider, who anticipates the duty for a private UK-US flight will add approximately £268 ($425) per passenger. The fee is calculated based on the mileage between London and the capital city of the destination, and operators will be required to report their fees on an annual basis.
Another area that is causing trouble for some operators is Mexico, said Snider. Historically, Mexican airspace navigation services provider SENEAM has assessed air-navigation fees along with fuel sales. But that addressed only fees associated with flights landing in Mexico, and the country had not made any attempt to collect ATC usage fees for flights over Mexican territory until recently. Many have reported that Mexican authorities are now attempting to retroactively collect overflight fees dating as far back as 2002, and that a “blacklist” exists of those the authorities believe owe money based on reviews of past flight records. Some operators deemed delinquent by SENEAM have had their aircraft detained on the ground in Mexico by agents seeking payment.
At the session, one operator noted that they had paid an initial bill, only to have the Mexican authorities come after them again after record of another flight was unearthed. According to Snider, SENEAM should work through the billing of its backlog of past flight fees this year, but in the meantime he suggests that operators with history of flying over Mexico should contact their in-country service provider or ground handler to have their company’s records checked before every flight to the country to avoid possible complications.