NATCA-Commissioned Report Raps User Fees

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A report commissioned by the National Air Traffic Controllers Association says a user-fee-based system of revenue generation for the FAA could actually hurt the airlines that are campaigning for it. The report, written by Darryl Jenkins, a visiting professor at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, says that the FAA could actually miss revenue that the current taxation system captures if it goes to a user-fee system. Airline ticket prices are on the rise because of increasing fuel prices and taxes currently assessed on the tickets are rising accordingly. He said all indications are that revenue raised from tickets and fuel taxes will increase in coming years, rather than decrease as the FAA seems to believe. Jenkins also noted that user fees tend to increase when airlines can least afford it. When business drops off because of a soft economy, the costs of running the air traffic control system don't decrease accordingly and the shortfall must be met through increases in the user fees. He said it's already happened in Germany and Canada. AOPA is applauding Jenkins's stance, saying it's similar to what it's been telling the FAA since the term "user fee" was first uttered by FAA officials about a year ago.