It was a startling turnaround. The airlines abandoned their demand for user fees, and their “blip is a blip” contention that all aircraft impose the same costs on the air traffic control system, during a hearing before a subcommittee of the Senate Finance Committee July 19. All that was left was their demand that they pay less and general aviation pay more.
Delta Airlines COO James Whitehurst, speaking for the Air Transport Association (ATA, which represents most of the nation’s airlines), proposed a new ticket tax that would include a fixed departure tax per passenger, plus a per passenger tax based on distance traveled. “It’s not a user fee,” Whitehurst said.
“Implicit in the ATA proposal is the acknowledgment that it is the number of people in the aircraft that contributes significantly to air traffic control system costs, and it’s those people not the aircraft that benefit from ATC services,” said AOPA President Phil Boyer.