For Immediate Release
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
The big airlines are at it again – spreading mistruths in an effort to vilify general aviation (GA), avoid responsibility for the delays the airlines cause, and shift billions in their costs onto the GA community. The airlines recently sent out a mass e-mail that twists the truth in a number of important ways:
1.The big airlines’ e-mail suggests that general aviation causes delays, when in fact, according to Department of Transportation (DOT) data, the primary causes for airline delays are weather and the airlines’ own practices. General aviation is not even mentioned as a factor in the DOT’s data.[i] As further proof of the airline pattern of over-scheduling, a spokesman for the DOT recently testified at a hearing before the House of Representatives, Transportation and Infrastructure Committee that one airline scheduled “56 departures in a 15-minute window at the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport, about three times the number of planes that the airport has the capacity to handle.”[ii]
2.The suggestion made in the airlines’ email that orders for general aviation aircraft have anything to do with aviation system use is completely misleading. The truth is that small plane owners and operators are feeling the pinch of a slow economy, as total hours flown by general aviation have decreased by almost 20% since 1990.[iii]
3.The e-mail claims that airlines pay “more than 90%” of revenues going into the Trust Fund;” but, government data shows that US passenger airlines pay 77% into the Trust Fund.[iv]
4.The e-mail suggests that GA is unwilling to pay for aviation system modernization, when in fact, the general aviation community supports legislation that includes a 65% tax increase on general aviation for FAA funding and system modernization, through the proven, effective fuel tax.[v]
No amount of airline spin can change these truths. If the airlines were serious about modernization of the nation’s air traffic control system, they would join with other aviation stakeholders in supporting FAA reauthorization legislation currently in Congress.
[i] “Status Report on Actions Underway To Address Flight Delays and Improve Airline Customer Service” Statement of The Honorable Calvin L. Scovel III, Inspector General U.S. Department of Transportation 4/9/2008: http://www.oig.dot.gov/StreamFile?file=/data/pdfdocs/Customer_Service.pdf
[ii] “Airlines share blame for flight chaos of 2007, report says” Los Angeles Times, 4/9/2008: http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-aviation10apr10,0,5040848.story
[iii] Opening Remarks by Robert Sumwalt, Vice Chairman National Transportation Safety Board: Before the
General Aviation Air Safety Investigators (GAASI) 2007 Advanced Technical Workshop 9/19/2007, Wichita, Kansas: http://www.ntsb.gov/speeches/sumwalt/rls070919.htm
[iv] All U.S. passenger airlines combined pay only 77% of taxes into the airport and airways trust fund. “FY 2005 IRS-Certified Airport and Airway Trust Fund Tax Revenue,” FY05 FAA ATO Data Package.
“[A]n internal Air Transport Association document obtained by The Hill indicates U.S. airlines paid about 74 percent of total contributions to the trust fund, and that the 95 percent figure comes only after taking foreign airlines and shippers such as FedEx into account.” “FAA’s air-traffic fee proposal sparks resistance,” The Hill, 4/17/2007.
[v] Funding as outlined in H.R. 2881: http://transportation.house.gov/Media/File/Full%20Committee/20070628/OBERST_049_xml.pdf