User Fees Back In Play

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A deficit-reduction plan proposed by President Barack Obama on Monday includes user fees for some general aviation flights, a move quickly opposed by GA advocates. Nine groups, including AOPA, EAA, GAMA, and NBAA, issued a statement on Monday expressing "unified opposition" to the proposal. "We believe this per-flight tax not only imposes a significant new administrative burden on general aviation operators who currently pay through an efficient per-gallon fuel charge at the pump, but it will also necessitate the creation of a costly new federal collection bureaucracy," the groups said in a joint statement. The president proposed a fee of $100 per flight to be paid directly to the FAA. Not all flights would be affected, however.

The proposal (PDF) exempts military aircraft, recreational piston aircraft, air ambulances, aircraft operating outside of controlled airspace, aircraft operated by the federal government, and Canada-to-Canada flights. The revenues generated by the surcharge would be deposited into the Airport and Airway Trust Fund to help pay the costs of maintaining the country's airports and the air-traffic-control system. The fee would generate an estimated $11 billion over 10 years, according to the proposal. "Mr. President, many foreign countries have imposed per-flight charges on general aviation and the results have been devastating," the GA groups said in their statement. "Please do not go down the dangerous path and cost jobs in our community. Per-gallon fuel charges work. Per-flight taxes destroy." Other groups signing on to the protest were the Aircraft Electronics Association, Helicopter Association International, the International Council of Air Shows, the National Association of State Aviation Officials, and the National Air Transportation Association.