Opposing Aviation User Fees

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Arkansas TV Viewers Learn Local Impact of Proposed User Fees

March 9, 2012

Recently, viewers of Little Rock, Arkansas’s CBS affiliate KTHV-TV heard firsthand how a proposed $100-per-flight user fee for general aviation (GA) aircraft proposed by President Obama might affect their own communities.

“Imagine having to pay $100 every time you left your driveway,” KTHV reporter Lisa Hutson told viewers. “That is what jet owners will be paying every time their plane leaves a runway, if a new tax passes Congress next year. It is [a tax] municipal airports across the country hope never takes off.”

KTHV-TV is a primary broadcast television station in the state capitol of Little Rock, and is seen over the air and on cable systems throughout the Razorback State and into neighboring Tennessee and Louisiana.

Hutson interviewed George Downie, manager of the Hot Springs Memorial Airport, which is located in Hot Springs, AR. “This is just another nail in the coffin [of GA], you might say,” said Downie. “Seventy-five percent of our [fuel sales] are directly related to corporate aircraft.”

Hutson drew the straight-line connection from decreased business airplane activity to the well being of local airports, saying that the new tax might mean the future of municipal airports will be up in the air. The report then showed Downie somberly telling viewers that business flying “…is the way corporate people do business. This is how they travel, just like having an automobile. We see it as a tax, an unfair tax, and so do the owners of these aircraft.”

The KTHV-TV story ran near the top of the 10 p.m. news and showed Downie telling viewers that GA business at the Hot Springs airport has been steadily declining since 2006, resulting in a decrease in fuel sales of some 40 percent. “We used to sell a million gallons a year, and now we’re down to 600,000 or less,” he said.

The interview was arranged by the Alliance for Aviation Across America (AAAA), a non-profit, non-partisan group of some 5,500 individuals, businesses, elected officials, charitable groups and business and aviation organizations that support the interests of GA on public policy issues. The organization’s executive director, Selena Shilad, said the Alliance has been encouraging local newspapers and television stations to contact their local airport managers on the likely effect of the proposed user fees. Last month, the Alliance sent a letter to President Obama that had been signed by 100 mayors from 48 states protesting aviation user fees.