February 28, 2012 By: Jessica Johnson
HOT SPRINGS, Ark. (KTHV) -The cost of flying continues to rise and if a new tax passes Congress in 2013, the cost for corporate and private jet owners will sky rocket.
Tuesday was a slow day at Hot Springs Memorial Field Airport with weather keeping everyone but the birds from taking to the skies. But even on sunny days, their runways are far from full.
“This is just another nail in the coffin as you might say,” says Manager George Downie. He says the general aviation business has been on a steady decline since 2006.
“The decrease in volume of fuel sales at our airport is over forty percent. We use to sell over a million gallons a year. Now we’re down to 600,000 or less,” says Downie.
Now, in an effort to more equally share the cost of air traffic services, Congress is looking charge a $100 fee to most small aircrafts flying in controlled airspace.
“If they fly a flight plan, that fee will be assessed and that’s if it is a turbon aircraft or a jet,” says Downie who notes small business owners and corporations that fly those aircrafts will take a hard hit.
“75% of our volume business is directly related to corporate aircraft,” says Downie.
If those corporate aircrafts keep their planes on the ground, Downie says the future of municipal airports will be up in the air.
“This is the way corporate people do business. This is how they travel, just like having an automobile. We see it as a tax, an unfair tax, and so does the owners of these aircrafts,” says Downie.
The Alliance for Aviation Across America collected signatures from more than a hundred city mayors from 48 different states opposing the tax and delivered it to President Obama. Stuttgart Mayor Marianne Maynard is the only mayor from Arkansas to sign it.
There are 19 different airports within the state of Arkansas. The fee would apply to all operators flying in controlled airspace, with the exception of military aircraft, public aircraft, recreational piston aircraft, air ambulances, aircraft operating outside the controlled airspace and Canada-to-Canada flights.
Source: TODAY’S THV (CBS)