After more than three hours listening to nearly 100 comments from local residents and aviation advocates, members of the Santa Monica city council voted Tuesday night to adopt a resolution that will apply landing fees to all aircraft flying into Santa Monica Airport in Southern California, as well as more than double the fee for aircraft previously subject to the charge.
A record 223 members of the House of Representatives have signed a letter to President Obama opposing his continued support of a $100-per-flight fee on commercial and general aviation. “Aviation user fees have been proposed in your last two budgets and Congress rejected them,” the letter said. “Aviation user fees have been proposed by different Administrations, both Republican and Democrat, and again Congress has repeatedly and overwhelmingly rejected them.”
In responses to an article published in the September 20 issue of AINalerts, AIN readers posted comments about user fees on AINonline.com:
•Working in the aviation industry for over 40 years, of which 25 were with the state of Michigan’s Bureau of Aeronautics, I had many occasions to deal with public and privately owned airports and corporate flight operations.
Three grassroots general aviation business owners told Congress last month that user fees in any form would be “devastating” to the general aviation community. At a hearing called by the House Small Business Committee, the trio blasted President Obama’s call for a $100 per-flight fee for turbine-powered fixed-wing aircraft.
“The costs associated with user fees far outweigh any benefit to deficit reduction,” said National Air Transportation Association (NATA) treasurer Marian Epps, whose family operates Epps Aviation in Atlanta.
In response to “the current state of the U.S. economy,” Signature Flight Support is levying a new “infrastructure fee” on its customers. The non-waivable per-visit surcharge is–according to a company spokesman–“to assist in recovering expenses for upgrades to facilities, security, insurance increases and other fees charged to Signature to maintain standards for service, safety and security for our customers, crews, passengers and aircraft.” The fee is waived for Signature-based customers departing their home facility and for charity flights.
Taxes. I would like to pay fewer taxes, or none at all, but I accept why societies need them. I know some folks think we should do away with taxes altogether, but I can’t see how that could work. Like death, taxes are inevitable. On that cheery note, there is one tax I believe the aviation community needs to keep and support, if for no reason other than to avoid its alternative. The tax is the one on aviation fuel; its alternative is user fees.
Like a monster that keeps coming back to life in a bad horror movie, user fees have returned in the form of a mandatory surcharge on every flight of a business or commercial aircraft proposed in President Obama’s jobs creation/deficit reduction plan unveiled in September.
Key Air’s Twin Cities (Minneapolis) and Treasure Coast (Fort Pierce, Fla.) FBOs are now offering jet-A at significantly lower prices, but accompanied by a handling fee set by the type of aircraft. Prices as of January 12 showed Key Air charging $2.23 per gallon for jet-A at St. Lucie County International Airport in Fort Pierce and $2.31 at Anoka County-Blaine Airport in Minneapolis.
If dealing with the price of fuel consumes more of your time than any other facet of running your flight department, Everest Aviation Resources has a solution. “We’re a fuel management company,” Noel Donald, president and CEO of the Baytown, Texas company, told NBAA Convention News.
Starting last month, operators clearing customs at so-called “user fee” airports began to see as much as a 10-percent increase in clearance charges. The increases are based on an increase in the flat fees charged to the airports by the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection. There are approximately 40 user-fee airports, so called because they don’t qualify as international or landing-rights facilities due to insufficient traffic volume.