If the DOT adopts “market-based” actions to relieve airport congestion and delays, which it is considering, landing fees could soar for corporate and commercial operators.
With Congress out of town for its “summer district work period,” there was little action on the FAA’s reauthorization bill, and the nagging question of how to fund the agency for the next four years hung over the legislature as the September 30 deadline loomed.
Lawmakers departed early last month for a 25-day hiatus, but the rhetoric between the nation’s airlines and general aviation over user fees continued apace.
The Senate last week passed the Surface Transportation Reauthorization Act (the “Highway Bill”), which authorizes surface transportation spending through fiscal year 2009. The legislation includes two provisions that could affect business aviation if signed into law, according to NBAA.
NBAA, the National Air Transportation Association and General Aviation Manufacturers Association recently urged the Department of Treasury to suspend the changes to jet fuel taxation provisions that were contained in H.R.3, the Highway Bill.
The Bush Administration is requesting $14.1 billion to run the FAA in Fiscal Year 2008 (beginning October 1), with general aviation–and in particular business aviation–continuing to pay fuel taxes as opposed to user fees as its share of operating the agency. “General aviation feels it is administratively much simpler paying at the pump,” FAA Administrator Marion Blakey said yesterday when the FY2008 budget was unveiled.
To lift what NBAA and the National Air Transportation Association call “confusing” and “burdensome” requirements from FBOs and fuel companies, Sen. Conrad Burns (R-Mont.) introduced the Aviation Fuel Tax Simplification Act. The act would temporarily suspend part of last year’s Transportation Equity Act, which requires all aviation jet fuel taxes to be deposited into the Highway Trust Fund.
"Business aviation should support the shift to user fees," urged Reason Foundation director of transportation studies Robert Poole, "if it is part of a comprehensive reform of ATC." He said user fees would enable the costly switch to a "network-centric" (more technology-based) ATC system that in his view would offset increased costs with potential savings from increased flying efficiency and fewer delays.
Republican lawmakers have taken steps to shelve new tax rules in the 2005 Highway Bill designed to discourage truckers from using jet fuel to avoid higher taxes on diesel fuel. Sens. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) and Conrad Burns (R-Mont.) and Rep. Robin Hayes (R-N.C.) sent letters to U.S.
If the provision is accepted by the House and the bill signed by the President, all aviation fuel will be taxed at the same rate as highway diesel fuel–24.4 cents per gallon. The purchaser would then have to submit a claim to the Internal Revenue Service to receive the difference between the 24.4 cents paid and the 21.8 cents per gallon actually owed.
“Business aviation should support the shift to user fees,” urged Reason Foundation director of transportation studies Robert Poole, “if it is part of a comprehensive reform of ATC.” He said user fees would enable the costly switch to a “network-centric” (more technology-based) ATC system that in his view would offset increased costs with potential savings from increased flying efficiency and fewer delays.
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