FAA Funding Plan Has Supporters, Too
While some aviation groups say the FAA’s current funding proposal will be the end of general aviation as we know it, the lobby organization that is generally credited with its creation says it’s “a good first step.” The Air Transport Association, which represents most U.S. airlines, has been pushing for a “user pay” system to cover the operation and modernization of the FAA for at least two years. Despite howls of protest from those who will pay more under the new scheme, ATA President Jim May said this week he doesn’t think the system of user fees and the tripling of general aviation fuel taxes goes far enough to relieve the unfair burden airlines have shouldered. “While we applaud this proposal as a good step forward in advancing the reauthorization debate and welcome its recognition of the inequity of forcing airlines and their customers to subsidize other system users, we have deep concerns over a number of elements of the proposal,” May said in a statement. Possibly one of the biggest sticking points with the ATA is the ability for GA operators to dodge costs by avoiding the country’s biggest airports. The funding proposal includes a fee for operating in the most “congested airspace” but, according to the ATA, incorrectly equates that fee with landings and takeoffs at the big hubs. May said up to 20 percent of the traffic handled by New York control facilities don’t end up at the big three airports. The ATA also doesn’t like the use of aircraft weight in calculations, nor does it approve of the federally mandated airport improvement fee that would see airline passengers paying $1 billion for improvements to non-commercial airports.