User Fees Not A Done Deal

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Just because the Bush administration and FAA Administrator Marion Blakey want them doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll get the user-fee structure they seem to favor. The current incarnation of Congress is feeling its oats these days, and all the groundwork laid by the alphabet groups to curry favor with key members could pay off in those hallowed halls during the coming hearings and debates. According to Air Transport World, a key congressional aide is predicting the funding proposal could stall because the Democratic-controlled House isn’t convinced that wholesale changes are necessary. David Heymsfeld, majority staff director for the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, told the American Bar Association’s Forum on Air and Space Law that the airlines’ motives are questioned by some. According to the ATW report, Heymsfeld said the feeling in Congress is that airlines are necessarily shortsighted on financial matters, and they’ve shown that with their reluctance to take part in airport modernization projects. The committee’s aviation subcommittee will be looking at the FAA funding request on Feb. 14 and the larger issue of reauthorization will likely be tackled sometime in March.