User-fee resistance (again) on the move

February 22, 2012

General aviation's supporters in Congress are moving again to resist the Obama Administration's latest effort to impose fees on users of the air traffic system.

Four key House members are urging colleagues to sign a letter to the president, urging him to drop a $100-per-flight fee proposed in the White House's 2013 budget package.

“This fee would have a devastating impact on commercial and general aviation, as well as the aviation manufacturing industry,” they said in a letter inviting fellow lawmakers to join the fight.

“The House has rejected fee proposals in the past. Aviation contributes more than $1.2 trillion to our economy each year and provides 11 million jobs. During these challenging economic times, the industry should not be saddled with more than $1 billion in new costs each year. This would have a detrimental effect on the competitiveness and future of commercial and general aviation.”

The letter to colleagues was signed by Reps. Tom Petri (R-Wis.), chairman of the aviation subcommittee of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee; Jerry Costello (D-Ill.), the subcommittee's ranking member; and GA Caucus co-chairs Sam Graves (R-Mo.) and John Barrow (D-Ga.).

On Feb. 13, AOPA reported that under the president's fiscal 2013 budget proposal, turbine aircraft that use air traffic services would be subject to the $100-per-flight fee. The proposal echoed language that had been part of a 2011 deficit-reduction plan.

Piston aircraft would be exempt, but the adverse effects of dismantling the pay-at-the-pump system for funding the aviation system through fuel taxes could still be disastrous—and once established, user fees tend to grow, AOPA said when the 2013 proposal was announced.

Lorraine Howerton, AOPA vice president of legislative affairs, urged members to contact their member of Congress, let them know that user fees are a bad idea—they are inefficient, expensive to administer, and can compromise safety—then politely ask them to join Congressmen Petri, Costello, Graves, and Barrow by signing the letter to the president opposing aviation user fees. The deadline to sign is Feb. 28.

Members can enter their zip code on the House home page to find their representative and contact information.