July 14, 2011

Individuals and organizations outside the business aviation community continue to weigh in with concerns about President Obama’s recent negative public comments about the use of business aircraft. Ten mayors in six states and the leader of the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council this week added their voices to the chorus of opposition to the president’s mischaracterization of the industry.

Mayors from Maryland to Washington State signed a July 11 letter to the President voicing their disappointment over his June 29 remarks about companies using business aircraft, apparently to make a case for adjusting tax-depreciation schedules on the aircraft. The letter accuses Obama of “mischaracterizing these aircraft and their crucial importance for our economy.”

“We can tell you firsthand that these aircraft are a crucial tool and resource for businesses in our communities,” the mayors’ letter states. “[These are] businesses that keep our communities afloat and help workers to be able to continue to put food on their table for their families.” Significantly, most of the letter signers are mayors of communities that have either limited or no local access to airline-served airports and depend on general aviation (GA) for a host of goods, services and employment in their communities.

There are about 5,000 airports accessible by business aviation in the U.S., compared to only about 500 airports served by the airlines.

“As you know,” the mayors write, “the vast majority of businesses and organizations that own and utilize GA are not wealthy CEOs. Rather, they are small to mid-sized businesses and organizations that rely on these aircraft to reach far-off plants and customers, serve rural markets without access to commercial aviation, or deliver medical care and other services.”

Mayors signing the letter are Mayor Carl Brewer, Wichita, KS; Mayor Mary Ann Maynard, Stuttgart, AR; Mayor Steve Van Oort, Ankeny, IA; Mayor Matt Bemrich, Fort Dodge, IA; Mayor Dick Kirchoff, Le Mars, IA; Mayor Robert C. Willey, Easton, MD; Mayor Dave McGirr, Huron, SD; Mayor Dave Hahn, Wall, SD; Mayor Margaret Larson, Arlington, WA; and Mayor Bob Goedde, Chelan, WA.

Also this week, Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council President and CEO Karen Kerrigan spoke out in defense of GA operators nationwide in comments posted July 12 to her organization’s Business Trends Blog.

“I understand the importance that GA plays in ensuring the vitality of so many communities, businesses and organizations…indeed, their very existence,” wrote Kerrigan. “So when the President talked about taxing corporate jets to generate more revenue, I took notice. Many of these taxpayers are small business owners and the self-employed who file taxes as individuals. Therefore, these entrepreneurs would get hit with higher taxes at a time when they need such resources to survive, grow their businesses, and hire more employees.”