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EAA Counters USA Today User-fee Editorial

February 13, 2008 — EAA is today sharply rebuking USA Today for its Feb. 13 editorial advocating general aviation user fees, reminding the national newspaper that the airlines have brought many of the current commercial air traffic bottlenecks upon themselves.

General aviation user fees would do nothing to directly solve those problems and would create a vast new federal bureaucracy to charge and collect those user fees. The Congressional Budget Office, in fact, estimated that it would cost more to collect the user fee than the fee itself. At the same time, user fees would threaten the nation's general aviation industry, which provides billions of dollars of economic impact and tens of thousands of jobs throughout the country.

"One of the reasons the nation's airlines are in their current situation is a substandard business model, which relies on smaller jets competing for the same slots at the nation's busiest airports," said Earl Lawrence, EAA vice president of industry and regulatory affairs. "The airlines are continuing their attempt to offload their costs onto the individual pilot who is a very-low volume user within the air traffic system."

Lawrence also reminded EAA members and other pilots that although last year's effort by the FAA to introduce user fees stalled in Congress, the latest federal budget proposal from the White House has brought back the proposal. EAA maintains that the current FAA funding system offers plenty of revenue to cover the costs of airport and technology upgrades, but those funds must be focused on those items and not on budget-deficit relief.

"This is not a battle to be fought once and then forgotten," Lawrence added. "EAA members and other aviation enthusiasts must be vigilant of these efforts and remind their federal lawmakers that general aviation user fees are simply a very bad idea."

EAA and other general aviation organizations continue their comprehensive work on the user fee issue. EAA also urges those who wish to respond to the USA Today editorial to do so at http://blogs.usatoday.com/oped/ or at letters@usatoday.com.

For more information on user fees, go to www.eaa.org/govt/userfees.asp.

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