User-Fee Battle Heats Up; Congress Keeps Options Open

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Despite increasing rhetoric on both sides of the issue, there's still no clear winner in the ongoing battle engaging the FAA and the airline industry against general and business aviation to impose user fees. Meanwhile in Congress, indecision reigns, with the House unlikely to develop legislation to fully implement the FAA's legislative proposal but an even murkier picture forming in the Senate. The FAA/airlines recently fired a salvo via an Associated Press story whining that airline ticket taxes are being used to develop airports used by business and general aviation. The non-scheduled industry shot back last week, announcing a new, national coalition of communities, small businesses and other organizations depending on general and business aviation and "dedicated to protecting small and rural communities" and their access to the national air transportation system. The new organization -- the Alliance for Aviation Across America (AAAA) -- last week boasted more than 2,200 members and stressed its support of "properly modernizing America’s air traffic control system to enhance safety, promote efficiency and expand capacity in order to ensure ALL Americans have access to air transportation."

Complementing that effort, the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) this week unveiled its new Online Advocacy Center, which the organization bills as "a new Internet resource that provides information about, and resources for opposing, the big airlines' user fee funding proposal." "When people in the general aviation community hear about the user fees and a tripling of taxes included in the airlines' FAA scheme, their first question is 'What can be done to oppose it?'" NBAA President Ed Bolen said. "NBAA's new Online Advocacy Center will literally put information and ways to take action against the FAA bill at people's fingertips." Resources available at NBAA's Online Advocacy Center include:

  • A link to Contact Congress, NBAA's user-friendly, Web-based advocacy tool for sending e-mail messages to members of Congress to oppose the FAA funding plan.
  • A sample e-mail message to invite others to use Contact Congress to oppose the FAA's plan.
  • A tool providing Washington, D.C., office contact information for Members of Congress.
  • Sample articles for company or organization newsletters, to help raise awareness of the FAA's user fee proposal, and urge opposition to it.
"I urge everyone in general aviation to visit NBAA's Online Advocacy Center to learn more and take action against user fees, in support of keeping our air transportation system the world's largest, safest and most efficient," Bolen concluded.