August 8, 2008

ATTN: Letters Editor
215 Lexington Avenue
New York, New York 10016

It’s ironic that the National Review abandoned its limited-government philosophy with an article touting support for the creation of a new bureaucracy ­ a “Sky-R-S,” if you will ­ for Federal Aviation Administration funding through user fees (Hell on a Tarmac, August 4).

Real-world experience with user fee systems shows that they require the creation of a giant new administration filled with an army of billing and collection agents, accountants, arbitrators and others. Why spend endless amounts of money funding this new bureaucracy, when it could instead be invested directly into the equipment needed for continued aviation system modernization?

Equally troubling, user fees come with hidden administrative costs for compliance. The International Air Transport Association reports that airlines with flights through user fee systems spend $85-$125 in administrative costs just to comply with a typical user fee invoice. That cost would surely be higher for the many companies that require an airplane for doing business, yet employ only a handful of people.

The right way to invest in continued aviation system modernization is to build upon the proven, effective fuel tax structure already in place. This efficient, pay-at-the-pump funding source requires no bureaucracy or red tape, and compliance is total. It accurately measures people’s use of the aviation system, because the more you fly, the more fuel you burn, and the more taxes you pay.

This approach is supported in bipartisan legislation passed by the House and under consideration by the Senate. Both measures would raise the fuel tax on general aviation by 65% to provide additional revenue each year specifically for investment in system upgrades. Best of all, this funding method negates the need for the creation of a massive, unneeded user fee bureaucracy. That’s likely something National Review readers would want to know about.


Ed Bolen
President and CEO
National Business Aviation Association