Business Aviation Must Pay “Fair Share” to Modernize NAS

“There is nothing unreasonable about requiring all aircraft operators to pay for the costs they impose on the ATC system,” said ALPA’s president, Capt. John Prater, in a recent letter to U.S. congressional leaders. “By linking taxes to costs, the financing system will ensure that Trust Fund revenues keep pace with FAA costs, reduce overall FAA operating expenses by encouraging more efficient use of services, and return equity and proportionality to the system.”

In the September 11 letter, Prater cautioned Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), chairman of the U.S. Senate Finance Committee and Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.), chairman of the U.S. House Ways & Means Committee, “The U.S. aviation system has reached a crossroads. It will either continue to create millions of jobs and fuel economic development, not to mention moving people and goods safely from point A to point B, or it will be hobbled by an outdated infrastructure that is incapable of handling the widely anticipated growth in air travel.”

Prater noted that the FAA estimates that air traffic will increase threefold by 2025 and that flight delays will climb by as much as 62 percent in just the next 7 years if the system is not modernized to meet these rising demands. “ALPA believes that financing the modernization of the air traffic control system can be achieved only by spreading it out among all users in a fair, balanced, and equitable manner,” Prater said.

ALPA’s President explained that U.S. airlines pay 97 percent of FAA taxes even though they account for just 73 percent of all air traffic costs, compared with business aviation, which pays just 3 percent of FAA taxes but accounts for 21 percent of all air traffic costs. “U.S. aviation and its effect on the economy is highly dependent on the successful transition and ultimate deployment of NextGen, but securing the necessary funding stream must be a responsibility and effort equally shared by everyone involved,” Prater concluded.

Both the U.S. House and Senate are currently considering their own versions of the FAA reauthorization bill. Once the bill passes in those bodies, it will move to a House-Senate conference committee, whose members will work to develop consensual language for a single bill.