Electors Group Opposes User Fees

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Well you never know who your friends are, and the aviation alphabet groups can add the League of Rural Voters to the growing list of organizations opposed to the Bush administration’s plans for reorganizing the FAA. In a statement issued last week, League President Neil Ritchie described GA as the “lifeline to rural communities” and says the mix of user fees and tax increases contained in the package will force many operators to ground their light aircraft, reminding the government of just how useful that fleet can be in times of trouble. "General aviation played a crucial role in efforts to evacuate Hurricane Katrina survivors and continues to play an important role in our preparedness for future disasters," Ritchie noted. The group is even more irritated about what the plans might do to airline service in the hinterlands. The government's fiscal year 2008 budget proposes to eliminate funding for the Small Communities Air Service Program, one of two incentive programs aimed at ensuring a base level of airline service in isolated areas. Under that program and the Essential Air Service Program, the government pays direct subsidies to airlines to provide service on what would normally be money-losing routes. Ritchie said the programs grew out of the need created when airlines were deregulated and immediately chopped unprofitable routes. “Our politicians often say that they recognize the economic importance of our heartland,” he said. “It is now time for them to demonstrate that by rejecting this big tax break for the airlines and protecting our rural communities.”