Phil Boyer, president of the 365,000-member Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), today reiterated the association's unwavering opposition to aviation user fees for air traffic control services as called for in President Clinton's Executive Order establishing the Air Traffic Organization. Boyer issued the following statement:
"The nation's general aviation pilots have been longtime advocates of a more efficient air traffic control system. In 1994, AOPA proposed the FAA Management Advisory Council and worked with Congress to liberalize the FAA's personnel and acquisition regulations. AOPA member pilots strongly supported the AIR-21 legislation that increased the agency's budget by almost $3 billion this fiscal year and established the framework for the air traffic organization, managed by a chief operating officer and a 'board of directors.'
"The president's executive order acknowledges and validates these significant reforms already in place.
"AOPA supports the group of distinguished individuals selected to serve on the air traffic services subcommittee. Their private sector and management experience will provide valuable oversight to the more business-like operation of the air traffic control system.
"However, AOPA remains strongly opposed to the administration's call for user fees for any sector of the aviation community. There is no financial crisis. Thanks to AIR-21, Congress has provided the FAA sufficient funds to modernize the air traffic control system. And Congress must approve any changes to air traffic services financing.
"The administration, in its eleventh hour, is trying yet again to resurrect pieces of its 1993 USATS (U.S. Air Traffic Services Corporation) proposal. Congress rejected USATS and every other user fee proposal presented in the past seven years.
"User fees won't reduce airline delays, but they do remove congressional oversight. Who will watch out for the interests of the flying public and general aviation? How will airline passengers feel about increased ticket costs? Who will protect general aviation from being 'priced out' of many airports?
"Aviation excise taxes remain the most efficient way to generate sufficient funds for FAA operations."
The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association represents the interests of general aviation, the non-airline segment of aviation. General aviation comprises 96 percent of the nation's aircraft fleet, flying more than 30 million hours a year. More than one half of the nation's pilots and three quarters of the aircraft owners are AOPA members.
December 7, 2000