...User Fees No Panacea

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The GAO report also found that despite implementation of user fees, air traffic systems still face budget problems if the industry suffers an economic downturn. The commercialized systems need to have fallback strategies such as a reserve fund, a cost-cutting plan, or some alternative to user fees, the GAO said. Also, some systems have increased or plan to increase the costs of service to small or remote locations. And while all of the air traffic systems claimed greater efficiency over their government-operated predecessors, the GAO couldn't document the claims, AOPA said. The "predecessor organizations did not necessarily gather or publicly report comparable data," the GAO report said. "Consequently ... comparisons of performance before and after commercialization are generally not feasible," the GAO said.