By Terry Spruce
National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) president and CEO Ed Bolen has sent an open letter to President Barack Obama to question the president’s decision to mischaracterize business aviation during his TV debate with Republican Mitt Romney.
“I’m writing to convey my frustration at your disparaging remarks about our industry during last night’s debate,” Bolen’s letter states. “Your comments seemed to illustrate a complete lack of understanding about the importance of business aviation in the U.S., and appear to be at odds with your stated interest in promoting job growth, stimulating exports, driving economic recovery and restoring America to its first-place position in manufacturing.”
Bolen was referring to Obama’s response to a question from debate moderator Jim Lehrer about tax policy, in which Obama stated: “Why wouldn’t we eliminate tax breaks for corporate jets? My attitude is if you got a corporate jet, you can probably afford to pay full freight, not get a special break for it.”
Bolen first countered those remarks in a statement issued to news organisations before the Wednesday night debate had concluded, which noted that the business aviation industry is responsible for 1.2 million American jobs, and contributes $150 billion annually to the US economy.
Bolen’s letter points out: “Business airplanes are mostly used by small and mid-sized companies, which are very often based in places like Moline, IL and Greenwood, MS, where airline service is minimal or non-existent. Having an airplane means the company – and the jobs that come with it – can stay in those small towns.”
In his letter, Bolen also questions the seeming disparity between the President’s comments, and his ostensible goal to promote American manufacturing.
“Mr. President, in your concluding remarks, you were quick to point to the auto workers you’ve met in Detroit’s manufacturing plants, and you celebrated their role in ‘helping to build America,’” Bolen’s letter notes. “Business aviation workers like those in Wichita, Duluth, Savannah, Columbus, Vero Beach and other American towns deserve your support as well.”
“Please consider promoting, rather than disparaging, business aviation – it’s a great American industry,” the letter concludes.