Some of the most powerful people in the country are the heads of the Fortune 1000 companies. Some of their companies have revenues that exceed the gross domestic products of 85 percent of the world's nations.
They have some pull in American politics. And most, if not all, of these CEOs rely on general aviation to enhance their businesses. Many are pilots themselves.
So this week, each one of these powerful executives will receive a note and an editorial from AOPA President Phil Boyer, explaining why the user fee funding system proposed by the airlines and the FAA would increase their operating costs and harm their business.
The editorial originally appeared in Chief Executive magazine, at AOPA's expense.
The magazine had run an opinion piece by user-fee advocate Robert Poole of the Reason Foundation. The foundation's agenda is privatization of most government functions, so it's no surprise that Poole presented a one-sided argument favoring the airline's takeover of the air traffic control system and user fees.
AOPA asked for equal space to present the other side. The magazine refused. So your association bought a full-page ad to make sure the CEOs understood why the user fee issue is important to them.
And now AOPA is making sure that every CEO of the nation's largest companies can read the unvarnished truth about aviation user fees.
"Don't buy the rhetoric of those who would turn over our nation's aviation dominance from government control to the highest private bidder," AOPA Boyer wrote in the "Executive Alert."
"Both the FAA and the airlines would like to...place a greater financial burden on non-airline operations; or in basic terms pass along their costs to corporate aviation."
Boyer pointed out that the goal of the airline industry is to take control of the air traffic system away from Congress and therefore the individuals who use and pay for it.
"The thought of airlines being in charge of our nation's aviation infrastructure — when they have enough trouble running their own businesses — is frightening!" said Boyer.
He took issue with Poole's claim that the system is headed for gridlock and that there is no way to pay for modernization.
"Contrary to Poole's assertion, it is also a system that works: A combination of 31 major hub airports that handle 70 percent of all airline passengers and 5,400 community airports that allow companies like yours to use smaller and more efficient general aviation aircraft to transport goods, personnel, and services to the rest of the country."
Poole may not understand aviation and the people who fly as well as he thinks. He concluded his article by telling the CEOs, "Don't let your chauffeurs — the corporate flight department — speak for you." Wonder if he has any idea of how many CEOs and other top executives are pilots and fly their own aircraft?
December 12, 2006