Beware the camel's nose

April 14, 2006

Beware the camel's nose
Canada proves an AOPA user fee objection

User fees for some ultimately mean user fees for everyone. That's one reason why AOPA opposes aviation user fees in the United States.

Canada has proven the point.

When the private corporation Nav Canada bought the country's air traffic control system in 1996, it assured general aviation that its only fee would be a fixed, annual fee.

Now Nav Canada has implemented daily use charges for general aviation aircraft at seven Canadian airports.

"The age of pay-as-you-go is upon us, indeed a very slippery slope that has played out elsewhere in the world," said Kevin Psutka, president and CEO of the Canadian Owners and Pilots Association (COPA). "COPA considers this a devastating precedent that will most likely be expanded over time to capture more airports and/or services."

And COPA expects that the airlines, which had pushed for this GA user fee increase, will be asking for more. Just as U.S. airlines are currently pushing for user fees on some segments of general aviation.

"We can't let the camel get his nose under the tent here in the United States," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "This is the perfect example of why any FAA proposal for fee-for-service would ultimately be bad news for general aviation. User fees would inevitably trickle down to the pilots of light general aviation aircraft.

"And this shows what happens when a private corporation runs air traffic control. Corporations are always looking for new ways to generate revenue - new ways to charge their customers.

"Air traffic control is not a commodity that can be supplied by the lowest bidder, nor charged on a per-use basis," Boyer continued. "It is about protecting public safety, in the air and on the ground. Everyone has a stake in that, and that makes air traffic control a government function that is rightfully paid for with taxes."

(For more information, see COPA's Web site.)

April 14, 2006