Paying For Congested Airspace

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As AVweb reported on Thursday, the nation's airlines have agreed to a user-fee formula that they'll be using to lobby the FAA and Congress in a bid to reduce their own costs. And if the FAA (and the White House) are already leaning in the user-fee direction, that leaves GA as a voice in the wilderness. "When the FAA and all the airlines are in total agreement about something, it's not usually good for general aviation," opines AOPA in its assessment of the Forecast Conference. What it may lack in lobbying power at FAA headquarters AOPA makes up for in political clout, and this battle is destined for the floor of Congress, where there have already been some spirited skirmishes. And while many in Congress wouldn't know a 172 from a 747, something they do understand is power and AOPA President Phil Boyer is claiming the user-fee tack is all about freeing the FAA from Congressional oversight. "Make no mistake, this is about control. Neither the bureaucrats nor a select group of users should have the final say on how the system is run," he said. "The best interests of general aviation and the general public are served with Congress firmly in the left seat and in control." Boyer contends that without Congress watching spending, the FAA will be free to waste as much as it likes and pay for it on the backs of those who depend on the system. "If you are a monopoly, and you can charge your customer whatever it costs to do business, what incentive do you have to keep charges low?" he wondered.