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WASHINGTON, DC, August 1, 2007 – The general aviation community supports air traffic control modernization, but wants to continue to pay at the pump through fuel taxes rather than user fees or some other new tax, said Rick Hale with Winner Aviation.
Hale, president and CEO of the company, which is a Member of the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA), made his comments in testimony today before a House Ways and Means subcommittee hearing on aviation taxes.
“The general aviation community supports aviation system modernization and is ready to help pay for it,” Hale said in testimony to the Subcommittee on Select Revenue Measures. “But to do that, general aviation operators want to pay at the pump – not through user fees or new taxes.”
Hale testified that his Vienna, OH-based company provides general aviation services such as charter of a King Air turboprop “the size of a large SUV inside,” and fixed base operation (FBO) support services, including aircraft maintenance, to businesses that rely on general aviation.
“Since our local area has very little commercial airline service,” Hale said, his firm enables others “to do business outside of Youngstown, [so] their companies are able to remain in Northeastern Ohio and Western Pennsylvania. That’s important at a time when our part of the country is losing businesses at an alarming rate.
“You don’t often hear about companies like Winner Aviation when people talk about business aviation,” Hale continued. “Instead, people tend to focus on large Fortune 500 companies. That’s unfortunate, since the business aviation community is made up mostly of small and mid-size businesses like mine.”
The House hearing is part of Congress’ consideration of proposals backed by the airlines and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that would shift massive costs from airlines to general aviation and impose user fees on thousands of mostly small to mid-size companies that depend on general aviation to conduct business.
However, Hale praised H.R. 2881, an FAA funding proposal recently introduced by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee that provides additional funding for system modernization, but recommends preservation of the current fuel-tax mechanism for general aviation to pay for system use.
Hale also shared with the subcommittee a letter from another NBAA Member Company president who has personally experienced dealing with a user fees in Canada’s aviation system.
The letter was written by James Martin, president of Martin’s Pastry Shoppe, Inc., in Chambersburg, PA, who flies turboprops to support his business and sometimes flies into Canadian airspace.
Hale said Martin wrote to him that the user fee system in Canada is “awful.” Martin described the time-consuming efforts to verify charges, correct errors and process invoices for payment that come with Canada’s user fee-based system.
“Why would anyone want to put this administrative burden on these companies?” Hale asked. “Our small businesses strive to avoid red tape and inefficiencies. User fees will open the door to those very challenges.”
Ed Bolen, NBAA president and CEO, commended Hale’s testimony and agreed with his conclusions.
“Today Mr. Hale helped members of Congress see the real face of business aviation, representing America’s general aviation community, and demonstrating the real impact of user fees on a large number of American businesses,” said Bolen. “As Mr. Hale expressed it so well, general aviation opposes user fees or any proposal that would shift costs from these small businesses to give others – in this case the major airlines – a huge tax break.”
Bolen said, “We look forward to working with members of the subcommittee in the House, and with the Senate to develop an efficient plan to modernize our nation’s aviation system based on an equitable approach for all users.”
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Founded in 1947 and based in Washington, DC, the National Business Aviation Association, Inc. (NBAA) is the leading organization for companies that rely on general aviation aircraft to help make their businesses more efficient, productive and successful. The Association represents more than 8,000 companies and provides more than 100 products and services to the business aviation community, including the NBAA Annual Meeting & Convention, the world’s largest civil aviation trade show. Learn more about NBAA at www.nbaa.org.
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