Airline CEO Suggests GA User Fees

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While analysts predict high jet-fuel prices and weak domestic revenue will further cripple the struggling airline industry this year, at least one airline may be taking aim at general aviation to share its costs. "As the system works today, you, the commercial airline passenger, are subsidizing private aircraft ownership. This is not right." So claimed Richard Anderson, CEO of Northwest Airlines, in an editorial titled "Fairness for All Airport Users," published in the March 2004 issue of Northwest's onboard magazine. Anderson said taxes and user fees account for up to one-quarter of the cost of an airline ticket, but private aviators are not paying their fair share of the costs of our aviation infrastructure -- essentially, getting a free ride on the backs of air travelers. AOPA was quick to respond, and has set up a meeting between Anderson and Phil Boyer for April 2. "Mr. Anderson's attack on general aviation is unfair, unwarranted, and, for the most part, untrue," said Boyer. "And by publishing his attack in so public a forum, he has raised what should have remained a regional skirmish into a nationwide battle." We'll look forward to bringing you the report of what transpires between Anderson and Boyer shortly.