The Fuel Tax, And What's "Really" Going On

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Through the current system of fuel taxes, GA contributes about $500 million to the FAA. The ATA is looking for about $2 billion in relief with its proposal. If only turbine-powered, non-scheduled aircraft are left footing that bill, it means business jet owners could be faced with up to $100,000 in extra fees each year, according to the math done by the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA). "This is a very serious, very immediate threat," said NBAA President Ed Bolen. Cirrus Design CEO Alan Klapmeier said user fees would "be a disaster for GA) because, as pilots dropped out of the system because of cost, costs would escalate for those who remain. "This is a bad deal," he said. Cessna CEO Jack Pelton noted that GA could end up paying for the more than $1 billion in renovations required at major airports to accommodate the Airbus A380 and the 555 passengers it will carry.

All the speakers said the user fee proposal is a cynical attempt by the airlines to dump costs on general aviation and gain control of the airspace system. "All the airlines want to do is pay less and control more," said General Aviation Manufacturers Association President Pete Bunce. "User fees are bad business and airlines drive the cost of the system." He noted that the FAA hasn't saved any money since GA was virtually banned from Reagan National Airport in Washington, D.C. so the "blip is a blip" analogy that the ATA is promoting doesn't add up. The ATA contends that only two-thirds of air traffic is airline-related but 90 percent of the cost is assessed to airlines. The forum speakers agreed that if GA disappeared, the costs of handling the remaining airline traffic wouldn't change.