"Why We Need Aviation User Fees"

  • E-Mail this Article
  • View Printable Article
  • Text size:

    • A
    • A
    • A

A petition titled "Take Aviation User Fees off the Table" has been sent to the White House with well more than 8,500 signatures, and the White House has offered an official response. The response is titled "Why We Need Aviation User Fees." It presents the Obama administration's "conclusion" that "a $100 per flight user fee is an equitable way for those who benefit to bear the cost of this essential service." The response is signed by Dana Hyde, associate director for general government programs, Office of Management and Budget, who twice raises the issue that users must pay or do their "fair share." The fee would be targeted, omitting all piston aircraft. NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen has responded, calling the administration's position an "administratively burdensome, bureaucracy-building, foreign-style user fee scheme that has very little to do with actual costs imposed on the system."

The original petition argues that "increasing tax rates on aviation fuel" more accurately reflects the use of services than does a flat fee imposed on a per-flight basis. The petition draws a very specific example to establish that point. It argues that "a flight from NYC to LA will require more controller time than a flight from NYC to Boston." On such a flight, a fuel tax "more accurately reflects the actual ATC services used." The White House's official response argues that a commercial jet flying from Los Angeles to San Francisco pays up to thirty-three times the fuel taxes of a corporate jet flying the same route and using the same services. The administration wants "to ensure that everyone is paying their fair share." Its position is that the $100 per flight fee would "more equitably" share the cost of air traffic services across the entire aviation community. All arguments exclude piston aircraft, military aircraft, public aircraft, air ambulances, aircraft operating outside of controlled airspace, and Canada-to-Canada traffic -- all of which would be exempted from the $100-per-flight fee. View the original petition and the administration's response here.