Ms. Melissa Cooley
Letters To The Editor
The Wichita Eagle
825 E Douglas Ave
Wichita, KS 67202-3594

March 16, 2006

Dear Editor:

In an attempt to promote a dubious funding scheme for America’s aviation network, a recent Eagle opinion writer (Corporate Jet Users Should Pay Fair Share, March 14) misled readers about how aviation works in America and what business aviation – a major employer in Wichita – is all about.

First, the writer promoted a funding plan favored by the airlines that would impose new user charges on those who fly general aviation aircraft for business purposes. Such a cost shift is unjustified given the repeated conclusion reached by respected authorities that the commercial airlines, and their hub-and-spoke network, are what drive the costs for the nation’s air traffic control services. The highly respected Government Accountability Office said so in 1997, and airline executives have in the past agreed with this conclusion.

The vast majority of U.S. business aircraft operators are small- and mid-size companies, charities, schools and religious institutions whose flights don’t impose significant costs. If everyone who operated a general aviation airplane was grounded, the government’s cost for operating the aviation system would not go down.

Here’s the bottom line: In supporting user fees, the airlines are really just attempting to lower their costs while increasing their control over the nation’s aviation system. To do that, they want to shift their costs onto those who depend on flying as part of doing business. This would be economically devastating to an aviation sector that is a major contributor to job growth and economic investment in Wichita and in communities nationwide. It’s unfortunate that the opinion writer appears to share the airlines’ viewpoint.

Ed Bolen
President and CEO
National Business Aviation Association