AOPA has taken its FAA funding views to an important and influential group, those who run airports.
Under the FAA's original reauthorization bill, airports would face the scary proposition of losing $1 billion in Airport Improvement Program funds. Plus, general aviation pilots would get hit with an increase of 70 cents per gallon in avgas taxes and new user fees for certain flights, something that would surely result in lost revenue for airports if pilots were to fly less and therefore use fewer services.
AOPA, however, is anticipating legislation soon that may bode well for GA, said Andy Cebula, AOPA executive vice president of government affairs. He spoke on June 10 at the American Association of Airport Executives' annual conference. AOPA is hoping that a House version of the bill will contain no user fees and robust airport funding.
While an existing Senate bill would help GA airports through a $100 million increase in airport funding each year for four years, it also contains the extremely troubling prospect of user fees (dubbed surcharges) for turbine aircraft. It has the potential to trickle down to other segments of aviation as it has done elsewhere in the world. Cebula reiterated AOPA's intention to fight against user fees hard in the Finance Committee as well as on the Senate floor.
Cebula cited Australia as an example of what not to do. There has been a 26-percent downturn in GA activity ever since user fees went into effect in that country since the early 1990s. See the story from AOPA Pilot. He used another story from Pilot to emphasize how user fees and penalties can affect safety decisions.
In closing, Cebula discussed the association's recent campaign against wayward editorials appearing in two airline in-flight magazines. Airline employees themselves as well as AOPA members have been downloading AOPA's counterpoints and inserting them in the magazines next to the inaccurate editorials.
Updated: June 18, 2007, 3:15 p.m. EDT