Time is money for a small business and it’s often the ‘behind-the-scenes’ aspects of a business that make a difference. My business isn’t just a small one, it’s a one-man office. But if it were not for my small plane, my company would not be as successful as it is now. For example, flying instead of driving allows me to get to customers throughout the state and as far as Ohio and South Carolina in a couple of hours and back. Across Kentucky, it is the same. General aviation and local airports help to support businesses and farms and their combined activity contributes over $1.6 billion to Kentucky’s total economy each year and supports 9,400 jobs.
General aviation also supports important services like air ambulances, search-and-rescue, firefighting, and law enforcement. Given that we have over 5000 airports across the United States and the majority of traffic goes through 30 or so of them, these airports and aircraft are a literal lifeline for smaller communities across the state, ensuring that goods, supplies, medical care get to communities in need. They support the maintenance of power lines, enable flight training, help farms spray and oversee crops, and deliver donor blood and organs to rural communities.
Our aviation system in the U.S. is open right now is accessible to communities and aircraft of all sizes. But some in Washington, backed by the biggest commercial airline operators, are pushing a proposal to privatize our air traffic control system. What this means is that proponents want to take our air traffic control system, and turn it over to a private board overseen by big, commercial airline interests which will decide who gets to fly where and at what cost. The majority of commercial traffic goes through about 30 airports, so thousands of communities, businesses and farms which are the backbone of economic activity and depend on smaller, general aviation aircraft and airports would face reduced service and higher costs.
Under this proposal, small businesses which rely on general aviation would have to pay user fees every time they take off and land, and there would need to be a large, new SKY-R-S bureaucracy to deal with all these mountains of new fees. This is a big threat to small businesses around our country as increases in the bureaucracy and costs associated with flying could push us out of the system. A hike in the time and financial investment needed use the aviation system would limit the number of flights I could make each week, shrinking my business’ potential.
Our air transportation system is an important resource which would be put at risk if the biggest commercial airlines were in charge.
Right now, Congressional oversight ensures that communities large and small have access to an air transportation system that serves big and small businesses, Wall Street and Main Street alike. Let’s make sure to keep it that way.
Ted Ogle of Louisville is the owner and president of Ogle Equipment Sales.