Everyone who uses the air transportation system pays taxes to help cover nearly 75% 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.
In addition to this dedicated fund from all aviation users, about one-quarter of the costs for the air transportation system come from the General Fund. This system of financing the aviation system has been in place for nearly four decades, standing the test of time and providing the important air transportation network that is so vital to our nation.
This proven method for financing America's aviation system gives the nation the safest and most efficient air traffic control system in the world. The Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) U.S. air traffic controllers handle more operations per controller at a lower cost than their counterparts in other parts of the world.
The U.S. Congress—comprised of publicly elected representatives from big cities and small towns throughout America—determines the FAA's annual budget and oversees the investments in the air transportation system. The air transportation network is vital to our economy and Congress has to decide by September 2007 how to pay for modernizing the air traffic control system and improving airports.
Some have suggested doing this by changing the time-tested, efficient, tax-supported method of financing our nation's aviation infrastructure with a complex set of air traffic control user fees through a quasi-public or privatized ATC system outside of Congressional control. While user fees are used in many parts of the world, they are highly inefficient to collect and none of these foreign systems begins to compare with the U.S. aviation network which handles nearly 50% of the entire world's aviation traffic. Why would the U.S. want to take a step backward by charging user fees?
This would effectively turn over this national air transportation resource into the hands of a few entities driven by profits—not your need for air transportation.
We must reject these calls that will leave many communities shutout from air travel. What we need is a truly national air transportation system—serving all Americans.