An injury in the workplace can be an extremely difficult experience for all of those involved. These situations require quick response and specialized customer service. I am the president and CEO of Utah Business Insurance Co. We are a worker’s compensation and insurance company located in Sandy. As a company committed to providing our clients with the highest possible level of service, we pride ourselves on quick, consistent communication and follow-up, in-person meetings and getting to work sites as quickly as possible for risk management evaluations. We have one critical tool that most people would not think of that makes all of this possible and that helps us to stay efficient and competitive — an airplane.
Flying helps the company save money and valuable time during the workweek; it sets us apart from our competitors and helps us to follow up with networking opportunities throughout the country. And I am not the only one. Throughout our state, businesses and communities rely on business aviation aircraft and local airports to transport goods and supplies, reach far-off markets and compete on an increasingly global scale. These airports and aircraft support agriculture, allow for the transport of blood and organs, assist in disaster relief and medical care, conduct search and rescue and support many other critical services for communities across our state. All told, general aviation airports in Utah contribute over $274 million to the state’s economy annually, and for communities that do not have air service, general aviation is a literal lifeline in terms of access to commerce, supplies and services.
Unfortunately, not everyone understands the importance of these aircraft and airports to our local communities. For example, the president’s budget for the fiscal year 2016 singled out the businesses, farms and individuals who use these aircraft for punitive taxes, and some have even talked about transitioning to a privatized air traffic control system where these businesses would be forced to pay user fees for every flight. These proposals would unfortunately disproportionately affect small to mid-sized businesses like mine. Currently, we pay through a fuel tax, which is simple, efficient and easy-to-use.
Fortunately, many of our elected officials here in Utah do recognize the significant contributions of general aviation. Gov. Gary Herbert recently declared April 2015 as “Aviation Appreciation Month,” and last month Mayor Ralph Becker of Salt Lake City declared March 2015 as “General Aviation Appreciation Month.”
The truth is that general aviation and local airports are a crucial component of our national economy and infrastructure, and we need to recognize and protect this critical business tool and lifeline to communities across Utah and our nation.
Ron Nielsen is the president and CEO of Utah Business Insurance Co. and a member of the Alliance for Aviation Across America.