AEA Says President's Plan for Economic Growth and Deficit Reduction is Flawed: Proposal Includes User Fees

In President Obama's plan released on Monday, Sept. 19, 2011, for jobs growth and spending cuts, titled, "Living Within Our Means and Investing in the Future: The President's Plan for Economic Growth and Deficit Reduction," user fees for filing a flight plan are proposed.

The plan would create a $100 per flight fee, payable to the FAA, by aviation operators who fly in controlled airspace. Citing that general aviation operators do not pay their fair share of air traffic services, the plan suggests the $100 fee would more fairly cover those services, but exempts public aircraft, recreational piston aircraft, air ambulances, aircraft operating outside of controlled airspace and Canada-to-Canada flights.

The plan states that fees collected would generate an estimated $11 billion over 10 years, and assumes that with the enactment of the fee, total charges collected from aviation users would finance roughly three-fourths of airport investments and air traffic control system costs.

"While the AEA applauds the administration for including funding of $1 billion to support NextGen Air Traffic Modernization efforts in its plan, it is discouraging to see another stab at a user fee scheme being pushed on our already fragile industry," said Paula Derks, AEA president. "Not only does this plan call for user fees, but in its introductory pages, the plan not once, but twice, negatively points out eliminating tax loopholes for 'those using corporate jets.'

"It is certainly an unfair portrait the president continually paints of our industry. Instead, he should be highlighting the number of Americans our industry employs and the number of airplanes we manufacture and export on an annual basis, one of the few manufacturing industries left doing so. And, the term 'tax loophole' is an inaccurate and misleading description of what is a simple bonus depreciation plan for the purchase of new aircraft and avionics that was promoted by the president himself last fall."