For Immediate Release
Thursday, April 19, 2007
Washington, DC – The Alliance for Aviation Across America today announced that over 2,200 individuals, rural groups, aviation professionals, airport and local officials and businesses have joined the coalition, including over 1,800 within just one week. The coalition launched on April 10th to fight the commercial airline-backed “user fees” proposal that would impose tax hikes on small businesses and towns across America that rely on general aviation. The group represents groups, businesses and individuals from all 50 states, including the American Corn Growers Association, the Mississippi Livestock Markets Association, Independent Cattlemen of Texas, Mercy Flight Southeast, Georgia Pilots Association, Angel Flight America, and hundreds of local and airport officials, small businesses and individuals from around the country.
“This huge outpouring of grassroots support in just one week’s time sends a strong message to lawmakers that small businesses and communities around this country are united against this corporate welfare package. We should be working to modernize our air traffic control system through full funding and accountability, yet this proposal slashes $600 million in funds that are needed for modernization while shifting tax liability onto the backs of small businesses and towns,” said coalition spokesperson Selena Shilad.
The “user fees” proposal was introduced as part of the Administration’s plan for FAA reauthorization – it would offset a multi-billion dollar tax break for the airlines by imposing a new tax hike on general aviation, or the businesses, organizations and farmers and ranchers that use small planes. These new taxes would include at least 12 and up to 25 new types of “user fee” taxes, and could also include everything from taxes on pilot certification to safety-related weather checks. The administration proposal also includes a tripling of the tax on aviation fuel to $.70/gallon, up from its current rate of $.20/gallon on average.
The airlines’ justification for this new tax is that a small prop-plane carrying 2 passengers somehow imposes the same costs on the air traffic control system as a jumbo jet carrying hundreds of passengers, even though all independent data show that it’s the the airlines hub-and-spoke system that creates the bulk of the air traffic control costs. In addition, rural communities across America would be hit particularly hard by the FAA bill’s proposal to slash funding for the Essential Air Service Program and the Airport Improvement Program and eliminate funding completely for the Small Communities Air Service Program.
“I am proud to stand with other local and airport officials, farmers and small businesses around the country who are fighting against this proposal which would decimate rural America, and benefit no one but the big commercial airlines,” said Joel Gil, coalition member and president of the Mississippi Livestock Markets Association.
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