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Airlines shift blame for air traffic mess

Modernizing the nation's Air Traffic Control system is necessary and a good idea, as the Air Transport Association's James C. May cites in his commentary, "Our air traffic control system is broken" (Aug. 21). But new technology won't solve airline travel problems that are caused by the airlines themselves. Their hub-and-spoke system, increasing use of smaller regional jets and overbooking of available runways leave little margin for weather or other factors.

As president of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, I represent 413,000 general aviation pilots, including nearly 22,000 in Missouri and Illinois. GA is a vital transportation link for communities across the Midwest. GA includes flights for business and personal transportation, for training future pilots, for law enforcement and for medical airlift.

GA pilots fully support modernization of the air traffic control system. And they're willing to pay for it through higher fuel taxes proposed in the bill now before the House of Representatives. Fuel taxes are fair because the more you fly, the more you pay. And they cost very little to collect. The airlines instead are proposing a new user-fee system, yet another government bailout with a huge tax break for the airlines and a new federal bureaucracy under their control.

We all need a fair and sustainable way to fund the world's busiest and safest ATC system, and the House bill is the best way to do that. We also need the airlines to stop their self-serving and deceptive attempts to shift blame and costs and instead take an honest and constructive approach to building the ATC system of the future.

Phil Boyer | Frederick, Md.
President, Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association

August 25, 2007

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