By Warren D. Morningstar
Sen. Robert Bennett (R-Utah) says general aviation is vital to the national economy.
Speaking on videotape to the AOPA Pilot Town Meeting, Bennett said that GA’s contribution is not only the money the industry puts into the economy, “but the efficiency that you give. I often point out to people that money isn’t the only thing that keeps the economy growing. We’ve got to be efficient in the way that we use our talent, getting people to the right place at the right time.... Business jets and smaller aircraft can take that talent to smaller airports not served by commercial aviation, and that makes a significant contribution to the economy.”
The fight against user fees is still going on, AOPA President Phil Boyer told a Salt Lake City audience on Feb. 20 during an AOPA Pilot Town Meeting.
“We’re battling the airlines on this. We’re battling the White House,” Boyer said. “We’re battling a powerful senator. But we also have a lot of allies in both the House and Senate. And in the end, I think it will be a pretty upbeat story.”
Boyer showed the big audience of Utah pilots how the airlines had waged a misleading media campaign, trying to blame general aviation for the airlines’ over scheduling and congestion problems.
“But it’s a media campaign you probably haven’t seen much of in Salt Lake, because it’s all aimed at Congress.”
He then gave the audience some examples of how AOPA and the Alliance for Aviation Across America were countering the airline propaganda.
Boyer said that the aviation taxes used to fund the FAA expired last October, but Congress keeps extending those taxes because they can’t agree on a bill. The House passed an FAA funding bill in September (H.R.2881), but the Senate is still wrangling over two competing funding bills, one with user fees (S.1300), and another from the Finance Committee (S.2345) with no user fees. The latter bill is similar to the House bill in terms of aviation taxes.
The current extension on aviation taxes and FAA funding is set to expire June 30. Congress will either extend taxes again, or the Senate could pass a final bill and send it to conference committee with the House bill.
“We have won so far,” said Boyer. “We don’t have user fees. But we really would like to see that cemented in legislation that goes at least four or five years.”
February 21, 2008