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Virginia Mayors Protest Proposed Aviation User Fees

January 30, 2013

Protests against Obama Administration-proposed user fees for general aviation (GA) continued to surface this month as another dozen mayors and city managers added their names to an Alliance for Aviation Across America petition objecting to the fees. The proposed new user fee would add $100 for each takeoff in a GA aircraft.

The latest signatures, from officials in Virginia, bring to 126 the number of city and town mayors and managers across the country objecting to the proposed new fees. To date, local officials from 48 of the 50 U.S. states have signed the petition. In addition to protesting the proposed user fees, the local leaders also object to the president’s description of GA business flights.

“Your comments... have not only mischaracterized these aircraft and their crucial importance... but have suggested that the businesses and communities that depend on this form of transportation can afford an increased tax burden,” wrote the mayors in the petition. “GA is a vital part of our economy‚Ķand we are extremely concerned about the repercussions of your statements on this lifeline to communities around the nation.”

Petition signer Mayor James Eskridge, Tangier Island, VA, is particularly aware of the importance of GA to his community. The Chesapeake Bay island is only three miles long by one mile wide and its GA-only airport is the sole quick means for medical evacuation of critically ill islanders. In addition, for the past 30 years, the airport has enabled Virginia mainland doctor David B. Nichols, M.D., to make weekly visits to provide the only professional medical care to the 727 residents.

“It’s a vital link for Tangier,” Eskridge said of the airport. “Not only for medical purposes, but also for tourism, which is the second-largest industry for islanders.”

Signers of the petition also point out that the vast majority of businesses and organizations using aircraft are small and medium sized, and that GA aircraft are “a literal lifeline” to their communities, bringing business growth, law enforcement help and other services.

“At such a vulnerable time for our economy, we need to be doing everything we can to support jobs and help to stimulate our economy, not crippling an important industry which represents a lifeline to communities such as ours around the nation,” the mayors concluded in the petition. “We stand ready to work with you on this and all issues related to local communities around the nation.”

Read the petition on the Alliance for Aviation Across America website.