Opposing Aviation User Fees

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White House Tells House Lawmakers: Commitment to User Fees Continues

May 3, 2012

The White House again recently reiterated its commitment to imposing new user fees on general aviation (GA), in response to a call from 195 Members of Congress to abandon the proposal as “the wrong approach” for GA to pay for its use of the aviation system.  

In a letter dated April 10, Jeffrey D. Zients, White House acting director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), claimed the White House’s proposed $100 per flight user fee – included in the Administration’s annual federal spending package, introduced earlier this year – would “generate an estimated $10 billion over 10 years, reducing the deficit and more equitably sharing the cost of aircraft traffic services.”

The OMB’s explanation came in response to a letter to the White House from Reps. Sam Graves (R-6-MO) and John Barrow (D-12-GA), co-chairs of the House General Aviation Caucus, and 193 other Members of Congress.

March 1, 2012, House letter opposing $100-per-flight user fees (3 MB, PDF)

April 10, 2012, OMB response to Rep. Graves (354KB, PDF)

“The White House’s response to Congress shows an intransigence on user fees that is not supported by reasoned policy and shows a lack of understanding of current aviation taxes,” said National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) President and CEO Ed Bolen. “In fact, studies conducted by government and industry have shown that, through the fuel tax, general aviation pays its fair share for the cost it imposes on the aviation system.

“Equally important, fuel taxes are an effective proxy for general aviation’s use of the system, because the more you fly, the more fuel you burn and the more taxes you pay. Fuel taxes as easy to pay – compliance is near total – and they are efficient for government to collect.

Bolen noted that user fees would require the creation of a new collection bureaucracy, and that the fees would be administratively burdensome on operators.

The letter signed by 195 lawmakers also emphasized that general aviation is a vital industry, making important contributions to the U.S. economy.

“It’s unclear why the Administration would insist on imposing new fees on an industry that’s essential to citizens, companies and communities – especially in a still-challenging economy,” said Bolen. “General aviation contributes $150 billion in economic activity each year, adds to the nation’s balance of trade and generates and over 1 million jobs. The Administration should be championing this industry instead of singling it out for punitive policy proposals like this one.

“NBAA and the rest of the business aviation community thank Congressmen Graves and Barrow and their colleagues for signaling their continued opposition to the Administration’s user fee proposal with their letter to the White House.”