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Mineta Says No User Fees For GA

EAA Reiterates Stance Against Any User Fee System

March 15, 2006 — Even though Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta told the House Appropriations Committee last week that the administration's fees-based funding proposal does not include user fees for general aviation, EAA remains firmly against adoption of any new scheme that levies user fees to fund the nation's air traffic control system.

"What is before OMB has no user fees imposed on general aviation," Mineta told the committee, referring to the budget plan currently being evaluated at the White House Office Management and Budget.

EAA Vice President of Government Relations Doug Macnair contends that any user fee program would not be in the best interest of aviation in the United States. "Even if they exempt some segment of general aviation but implement a user fee funding mechanism for the airlines or business aviation, we are against it," he said. "It establishes a cumbersome new revenue generating system, and we believe it would only be a matter of time before general aviation would also be included.

"We are against such a plan even if some elements of general aviation are excluded because it wrests oversight and funding control from Congress, leaving the FAA free to set fees and spend the proceeds without congressional control," Macnair added. "We do not want the funding system to be outside of congressional oversight."

EAA is also concerned that the Administration has yet to define what is exempted under the banner of general aviation, be it piston aircraft, personal use aircraft, business aviation, air taxis, charter operations, or air cargo. "There is a concerted effort underway on the part of the air carriers to divide general aviation into ever smaller segments as the target of their financial attack," Macnair said. "Their effort to target corporate and business aviation for user fees while excluding other segments of general aviation may be politically expedient in the near term but leaves the remainder of the general aviation community ever more vulnerable to their next round of attacks. In essence, general aviation must hang together in a united front against this coordinated economic and political attack. If we permit ourselves to be segmented and divided we surely will be conquered."

As a matter of policy the air carriers are engaged in a coordinated effort to displace their economic problems, brought about largely by a failing business model and rising fuel prices, and view a user fee-based system as a means of doing so. "The major airlines and commercial operators favor user fees because they hope to offload many of the costs for operations and services on to general aviation, even though the nation's air traffic system is truly designed to serve the air carriers" Macnair said. "If the FAA operations budget were properly funded from the general fund as intended, and capital improvements were covered by the Aviation Trust Fund, the issue would be resolved."

EAA contends that the current system of funding is not broken, that the aviation trust fund is growing and is forecast to continue doing so, and that the existing system of taxes and fees will adequately fund the projected air traffic modernization needs of the national airspace system. "The fuel taxes paid by GA provide for the most efficient and streamlined funding mechanism," said EAA Vice President of Government Relations Doug Macnair. "The existing tax on general aviation fuel is the most equitable and transparent system of revenue collection available requiring no new bureaucracy to administer, unlike any new user fee system."

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