2007 Press Releases

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NBAA Calls Upon Congress to Reject Ruinous User Fees, Tax Hikes in Big Airlines' FAA Funding Plan

Proposal Would Be Harmful to Small Businesses, Rural Communities Nationwide

Contact: Dan Hubbard at (202) 783-9360 or [email protected]

WASHINGTON, DC, March 8, 2007 – The user fee plan advocated by the major airlines and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) would be disastrous for the national aviation system, and for small and mid-size businesses in rural areas across the country, Ed Bolen, president and CEO of the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA), told a congressional subcommittee today.

In testimony before the Senate Aviation Subcommittee of the Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, Bolen argued that although the FAA and its airline backers are calling the reauthorization bill a modernization plan, "the facts, and history, tell a different story. This is not a modernization bill."

He said the FAA bill is at odds with modernization because it contains provisions that would overthrow a funding structure that has proven to be stable, reliable and growing for more than 25 years in exchange for a radical user fee regime that would jeopardize the largest, safest and most efficient air transportation system in the world. Bolen pointed out that the bill includes:
  • A $600 million cut in FAA funding;
  • Authorization to permit the FAA to go into debt up to $5 billion starting in 2013;
  • Diversion of funds for air traffic control transformation to create a bureaucracy to assess and collect user fees. Whether the bureaucracy is built inside the government, or outside through contractors, money must be used to create and maintain the bureaucracy, which Bolen called "a virtual IRS Branch for the FAA."
"Revenues going into the Airport and Airways Trust Fund are at record levels, and no less an authority than the Congressional Budget Office has said that the FAA will continue to have sufficient funds to fully support the transition to the Next Generation Air Traffic System," he said.

Bolen reminded the subcommittee that, in 1997, the airlines advocated that user fees were needed to overhaul aviation system funding. A decade ago, airlines also wanted to shift some $600 million in costs, and reduce the role of Congress in aviation system oversight.

"To everyone who was around the last time the nation's big airlines pushed that scheme, there is a strong sense of déjà vu," Bolen said. "This time around, the airlines have picked a new target for their tax shift – general aviation – and they have increased the amount to $2 billion. The objective of reducing congressional control of the FAA remains unchanged."

Bolen maintained that the battle over aviation user fees is a battle over whether Congress will retain control of the air traffic system or whether that control will shift to unelected bureaucrats or even industry. Additionally, allowing the airlines' plan to prevail would impose devastating costs on the small and mid-size businesses that rely upon "general aviation" in small and rural towns nationwide.

"Expanding the capacity of our nation's air transportation system to accommodate demand can and must be a national priority, designed to serve all system users," Bolen testified. "No one should mistake aviation user fees with a modernization plan."

Bolen urged the subcommittee to immediately reject aviation user fees in any form and work within the established congressional process to expand system capacity to enhance mobility for all Americans.

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Founded in 1947 and based in Washington, DC, the National Business Aviation Association, Inc. (NBAA) is the leading organization for companies that rely on general aviation aircraft to help make their businesses more efficient, productive and successful. The Association represents more than 8,000 companies and provides more than 100 products and services to the business aviation community, including the NBAA Annual Meeting & Convention, the world's largest civil aviation trade show. Learn more about NBAA at www.nbaa.org.

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