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"Small airports fear impact of ATC fee"

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Small airports fear impact of ATC fee
By Megan Davis 
The News Virginian

Local and national members of the aviation industry say they fear a measure
included in President Obama's Plan for Economic Growth and Deficit Reduction
could deliver a crippling blow to the enterprise.

"It will be devastating for our business," said John Trissel, manager of
Eagle's Nest Airport in Fishersville. "If we have any more loss of business
. we're very concerned about being able to keep the airport open."

To help fund the plan, a $100 per flight air traffic control fee for nearly
all flights in government-controlled air space is proposed.

While expressing less alarm, Greg Campbell, manager of Shenandoah Valley
Regional Airport in Weyers Cave, said he also opposes user fees.

"We like the current system as it is," he said.

Campbell said he believes "smaller folks would be impacted most" by such a

"I don't see it as a positive for the general aviation crowd," he said.

The plan touts the tax as a way to "more equitably share payments for air
traffic services."

"General aviation users currently pay a fuel tax but this revenue does not
cover their fair-share-use of air traffic services," the plan reads.

The fee would generate an estimated $11 billion during a period of 10 years,
which would cover three-fourths of airport investments and air traffic
control system costs, according to the plan.

Currently two-thirds of air traffic control costs are funded by the aviation
excise tax, with most of the revenue collected from airlines.

In addition to cutting taxes, the plan "also asks the wealthiest Americans
and biggest corporations to pay their fair share of taxes," Obama said last
week during a visit to Cincinnati, Ohio.

After the administration released the plan, the Alliance for Aviation Across
America sought to refute Obama's "mischaracterization" of general aviation.

"The President has repeatedly denigrated general aviation, stating that
those who use or own their own aircraft are wealthy and deserving of
additional tax burdens," a news release from the organization reads. "This
comes at a time when the general aviation industry, which is responsible for
over 1.2 million jobs and $150 billion in economic impact, has already had
to lay off tens of thousands of workers and businesses are already trying to
stay afloat."

Days later representatives of 77 localities in 44 states, including Franklin
Mayor James Councill III and Petersburg City Manager William Johnson III,
issued a joint letter expressing disapproval of the fee.

"The vast majority of businesses and organizations that own and utilize
general aviation are not wealthy CEOs," the letter reads. "Rather, 85
percent are small to mid-sized businesses and organizations that rely on
these aircraft to reach far-off plants and customers, serve rural markets
without access to commercial aviation or deliver medical care and other

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