Latest White House User Fee Plan Draws Fire

Proposal seen as non-starter in budget negotiations.

User Fees

User Fees

Aviation groups and many members of Congress are reacting negatively to the Obama Administration’s budget plan for fiscal year 2014, slamming the proposal for once again including a provision for a $100-per-flight user fee.

The White House’s user fee proposal appears to have little chance of making it into a final budget package after 223 bipartisan members of the House of Representatives last week sent President Obama a letter urging him to abandon the idea of aviation user fees “once and for all.”

Still, aviation groups are urging members to contact their Congressional representatives to reinforce that message, saying the $100 fee is the wrong way to fund FAA programs.

“It is unfortunate, but not surprising, that the frequent negative rhetoric about business aviation from the White House has once again translated into an onerous policy position from the administration, but that’s exactly what has happened with the new federal budget proposal,” noted NBAA President Ed Bolen in a message to members.

Under the proposal, the government would charge the $100 per flight fee to turbine general and business aviation airplanes flying on IFR flight plans as a “surcharge” to pay for ATC services. Aviation groups including NBAA, AOPA and the General Aviation Manufacturers Association say the industry isn’t opposed to paying more for such services, but the mechanism should be an increase in the tax on jet fuel and not user fees.

“This is the wrong way to fund our aviation system,” said AOPA President Craig Fuller. “Congress has said it will not tolerate user fees, and neither will the general aviation community.”

The user fee issue is just one of dozens that Republican lawmakers have taken issue with in the president’s latest budget. No action is likely on any of the proposals in it until the summer, budget watchers say.