ATA rally pressures US Congress

The Air Transport Association has hosted an industrywide fly-in rally of airline pilots,
flight attendants and other employees, urging Congress to pass
legislation that would modernize the US air traffic control system
and create a fairer funding structure.Rally participants told Congress that it was past time to
both modernize our 1950s vintage ATC system and to terminate the
outrageous subsidy passengers are required to pay to support corporate
jets. Currently, airline passengers pay 92 percent of the Airport and
Airway Trust Fund (AATF) contributions but drive only 66 percent of
costs - the rest (almost $2 billion) is subsidy.

“The public deserves much better,” said ATA President and CEO James C.
May. “We can address today’s airport delay problems and do it much more
cost effectively for passengers if - and only if - Congress acts
promptly to fairly reauthorize the trust fund. We are fed up with
gridlock, delay and an unfair funding system - the time for Congress to
act is now.”


At the same time, rally participants told Congress that just throwing
money at airports is no solution. The proposal for a 56 percent increase
in airport taxes (from $4.50 to $7) to pay for programs like airport
bicycle lockers and hot dog stands must be scrapped while Congress
figures out how to optimize airport runway and gate funding.

“The passenger facility charge (PFC) tax that I am working to defeat is
bad for consumers, bad for travelers and bad for businesses,” said Rep.
Nick Lampson, D-Texas. “Raising this tax means that a family of four
will have to pay $112 in additional costs for a round-trip flight with
one connection. That’s a pretty big hit for families traveling to see
loved ones during the holidays and, in some cases, enough to prohibit a
family vacation.”



“Airports get $13 billion a year from bonds, Federal Aviation
Administration (FAA) grants, and state and local aid,” said Rep. Ted
Poe, R-Texas. “Passengers do not need to spend any more in taxes to


“Congress must address this inequitable tax burden - this year - as it
will be the last chance for years to create fairness in the way the FAA
is funded,” said Duane Woerth, Northwest Airlines 747 captain and former
president of the Air Line Pilots Association. “The current unfair tax
burden has materially harmed all airline employees and their customers.”


        “Smart Skies beats the not-so-smart approach in the current
House aviation bill by miles, and Congress needs to look overhead to the
future. Higher PFCs for airports are no better than higher gas taxes for
more pork-barrel highway projects,” said Peter Sepp, vice president of
communications for the National Taxpayers Union. “Only a customer-driven
ATC system, based on a prudent, accountable funding process, can give
the nation’s taxpayers and passengers the travel they deserve.”