By: Julie Clements
September 27, 2011
El Dorado, Kan. – The aviation industry is important to not only Wichita, but surrounding communities, which feel the impact of any downturn in that industry.
Fear over attacks on general aviation by President Obama led 77 mayors in 44 states, including Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer, to sign a letter addressing those concerns.
In the last several weeks, the President has referred to business and the individuals who use business jets as wealthy CEOs and said there needs to be additional taxes on them, including a user fee for all takeoffs and landings.
“Being the air capital of the world here in Wichita, I certainly know the value of aviation,” Brewer said.
He said he cringes each time he hears the President make comments about the use of business jets.
“Aviation has a strong impact on our economy, in the state of Kansas and our country,” Brewer continued.
He said Wichita produces 40 percent of the world’s general aviation aircraft.
According to a 2010 report by the Kansas Department of Transportation, the aircraft industry alone supports $10 billion of economic activity.
Brewer said he knew of one company in Wichita which has had to downsize by 50 percent because of comments like these.
“I’m struggling to understand why the President is doing this,” Brewer said. “I think the President is hearing us, but we have to continue to get that message out there.”
In the letter it states:
“General aviation supports 1.2 million American jobs, over $150 billion in economic impact annually, and is a vital economic engine for our national economy. However, it is also a struggling industry – in just the first six months of 2011, there has been a 15.5% drop in general aviation aircraft shipments, and billings for general aviation have dropped 22.3%. Since 2008, manufacturers have also laid off roughly 20,000 workers, which is additionally concerning given that the general aviation industry remains one of the only sectors in U.S. manufacturing that still contributes positively to the balance of trade.
“In addition, general aviation aircraft and the airports they utilize are a literal lifeline to our communities, providing access for business growth, law enforcement, disaster relief, medical care and other services. They are utilized to help transport blood and organs to residents in rural communities, reunite veterans back from overseas with their families, and help our companies to reach customers in markets that otherwise could not be reached.?”As you know well, the vast majority of businesses and organizations that own and utilize general aviation are not wealthy CEOs. Rather, 85% are small to mid-sized businesses and organizations that rely on these aircraft to reach far-off plants and customers, serve rural markets without access to commercial aviation, or deliver medical care and other services. We can tell you firsthand that these aircraft are a crucial tool and resource for businesses in our communities; businesses that keep our communities afloat and help workers to be able to continue to put food on their table for their families.”
It goes on to talk about the user fee taxes that would add an additional burden on business, farms and organizations.
The letter concludes with: “At such a vulnerable time for our economy, we need to be doing everything we can to support jobs and help to stimulate our economy, not crippling an important industry which represents a lifeline to communities such as ours around the nation. We stand ready to work with you on this and all issues related to local communities around the nation.”
Source: El Dorado Times