Mass. Bill To Impose $1k Landing Fee Won’t Fly

 - May 18, 2021, 10:42 AM

Massachusetts state Sen. Julian Cyr, who last week submitted to the state legislature a bill to require a $1,000 landing fee for virtually all general aviation aircraft, now says he has plans to extensively revise the bill when it comes before the relevant committee. The bill was proposed ostensibly to reduce carbon emissions generated by what he sees as “luxury aircraft owned by the ultra-wealthy.”

“From feedback I’ve received from [aviation advocates] and others about the bill, it’s clear that more exemptions should be included,” Cyr told AIN. "Specifically, flights used for pilot training, sightseeing tours, and smaller Cessna-like airplanes and/or those registered in Massachusetts and owned by a Massachusetts resident.”

Additionally, “We can revise to exempt planes operating on sustainable aviation fuel and electric aircraft. It seems reasonable that any landing fee would be prorated given the size of the aircraft. I plan to suggest these changes to the bill when it comes before the relevant committee for a hearing.”

Cyr is apparently unaware of the federally mandated fuel tax paid by private operators and the passenger fees paid by air charter operators, as well as the business purposes to fly, when he states, “There is no public cost to private and corporate airplane operators owned by the ultra-wealthy to fly in and out of Massachusetts for luxury travel. We are out of time to avert the climate crisis. To meet the moment, components of our way of life need to change, and luxury air travel is not exempt.”

That said, Cyr emphasized that he is “serious about addressing this issue” and very much considers this legislation a conversation starter. “Our intent...was to tax a luxury product for the benefit of all who stand to lose from the acceleration of climate change, and we intend to refine the exemptions to avoid imposing onerous costs on smaller operators in the process.”

What’s more, Cyr conceded that current federal law and FAA regulation on revenue diversion would make this bill nearly impossible to implement by the state. Changes to those federal laws and FAA regulations would need to happen to make this state-level bill possible, which is an unlikely scenario.