April 16, 2007
The Akron (Ohio) Beacon Journal
As the President of a Regional Airport Authority, I felt compelled to answer the front page article "Airfares subsidize private jet travel." I am ashamed the Beacon Journal printed this article without first researching it. First of all, the Reason Foundation is a special interest think tank that runs a Web site called "Privatization.org." It promotes privatizing everything from the FAA to Ohio's own government marketing and the Ohio Turnpike system.
The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association states, "Everyone who uses the air transportation system pays taxes to help cover nearly 75 percent of the costs of developing and running America's National Airspace System (NAS) and improving and maintaining public-use airports. Included in this group are private and corporate pilots who pay taxes on the aviation gasoline or jet fuel that they purchase for their aircraft; airline passengers who pay a tax on the value of their ticket plus a small segment fee (all the taxes collected by the airlines are paid by the passengers, not the airlines); and people shipping packages who pay a tax on the cost for shipping. These aviation taxes cost the government and the aviation industry very little to collect and are deposited into the Aviation Trust Fund."
From the U.S. Senate discussions from Senate Bill 2285, "Under present law, motor fuels are subject to the following federal excise taxes - gasoline: 18.4 cents per gallon; highway diesel fuel and kerosene: 24.4 cents per gallon; railroad diesel fuel: 4.4 cents per gallon; inland waterway fuel: 24.4 cents per gallon; noncommercial aviation gasoline: 19.4 cents per gallon; noncommercial jet fuel: 21.9 cents per gallon; and commercial aviation fuel (the airlines...): 4.4 cents per gallon." We can see that the people who fly non-commercial jets not only pay, they pay dearly when compared to the airlines in tax per gallon. No one is getting the free ride but the airlines. They do not even pay the tax; you and I do! Furthermore, the article leads one to believe that the skies are filled with rich playboys gallivanting around the world to expensive resorts and the like. If the IRS catches someone using a business aircraft for pleasure, the entire expense for that aircraft for the tax year is converted into "income" and they are taxed at the maximum rate. The corporate and private aircraft pay their own way. The airlines are not subsidizing the private jets. It is clearly the mismanagement of the airlines that is causing their problems.
This is all a big front by the FAA being pressured by the Bush administration to privatize the national air system so the CEOs can get large retirement bonuses while the pilots, flight attendants and the poor slugs throwing your luggage around lose their income and their retirement packages. The FAA is crying that they don't have enough money to run the system, but in fact, AOPA researched the Aviation Trust Fund and found out that not only are they able to run the system, but they are accumulating funds and are quite healthy. The Bush administration was forced to admit that their answer (to charge private jets and small planes a whopping increase in fuel taxes) will not fund the present system or the new system "without borrowing." My, my have we heard that somewhere before?
From my own experience, smaller airports get funds mostly when there is a safety issue. My own airport received a much-needed taxiway because we were forced to land aircraft and have them back-taxi on the runway increasing the chance of an accident. The fact of the matter is that the airlines are run for the profits of a few select individuals. Fuel price, not tax is what is strangling our nation's airlines. If the Bush administration had not spent almost a half trillion dollars on a war, and nearly $100 billion to rebuild Lebanon when we did not damage it, the American people might be a lot better off than they are without the government handing out more taxes to pay to use services we have already rightfully paid for. Sadly, the Beacon Journal printed this tripe without looking at both sides. There is much too much of this irresponsible journalism going on in the media today.
Michael Pryce President Portage County (Ohio) Regional Airport Authority
April 23, 2007
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