By Holly Michels
Administrators at Butte’s Bert Mooney Airport and a national aviation group are attacking a bill introduced in the U.S. Senate recently proposing wide-sweeping changes in Federal Aviation Administration fees.
The bill, S.1300, would authorize appropriations for the FAA for fiscal years 2008 through 2011 and aims to improve aviation and modernize operations.
Bert Mooney Airport manager Rick Griffith is worried the bill will mean a 70-cent-per-gallon increase in fuel tax for general aviation pilots.
General aviation includes all flights other than military and scheduled airline flights “It’s a big number as far as the number of people that do that,” he said Wednesday.
Griffith estimates Bert Mooney has 10,000 general aviation take-offs and landings each year.
Somehow, that’s going to be reduced” if this bill passes, he said.
Griffith estimates the tax will mean an extra $15 per fill-up on helicopters, and said those pilots get gas multiple times a day when they fly.
The bill doesn’t outline a fuel tax increase, but does say the FAA will impose a $25 surcharge per flight for air traffic control costs.
The Alliance for Aviation Across America, a national organization that represents smaller airports and related businesses and organizations, believes the Senate Commerce Committee, which is reviewing the bill, will recommend relieving large airlines of an existing 4.3 cents per-gallon fuel tax in exchange for paying the surcharge.
The alliance also thinks the bill will raise the fuel tax from 21.8 cents per gallon to 49 cents for general aviation users.
In a press release, the alliance said the Senate Finance Committee, chaired by Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., will release its own version of the bill soon.
Sara Kuban, press secretary, said Sen. Baucus has reservations about the current bill.
“He will not let any bill move forward that could hurt Montana airports and consumers.”
Source: THE MONTANA STANDARD