User Fees Planned for 2011 Budget

A footnote in the Obama administration budget plan has grown to become a serious threat to those opposed to user fees to support the FAA budget. According to the Transportation Department, cost-based user charges are expected to yield $9.6 billion of the FAA operating budget for Fiscal Year 2011. Details are under development, according to a statement, and "some time will be needed to implement the charges once approved." The proposed budget for the FAA in FY2010 is $16 billion, an increase of almost $500 million over the 2009 spending. According to an administration spokesman, "The FAA's current excise tax system, which generated $12.4 billion in 2008, is largely based on taxes that depend upon the price of customers' airline tickets, not FAA's cost for moving flights through the system. The administration believes that the FAA should move toward a model where FAA funding is related to its costs, the financing burden is distributed more equitably, and funds are used to directly pay for services the users need." Plans for user fees pick up from similar proposals promoted during the Bush administration. Most general aviation proponents oppose the fees and maintain that the current system of excise taxes on aviation fuel more accurately represents GA's demand on the FAA and the ATC system.