WASHINGTON, D.C., June 24, 2008 – Today, the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) responded to a joint report on private jet travel and the general aviation (GA) industry authored by the Institute for Policy Studies and Essential Action (IPS/EA).
The report resurrects the well-worn, and worn-out airline industry claim that GA does not pay its fair share of the costs associated with air traffic control (ATC) services when in fact, the airlines themselves drive the costs of a hub and spoke model that was built primarily to meet their needs. The costs imposed on the system to move an airliner with over 100 passengers between one of their hubs or from a spoke airport to a hub, dwarf the costs imposed upon the system by general aviation aircraft that intentionally avoid the airline hubs where the airlines have overscheduled to near gridlock. The nation’s busiest 35 airports, predominantly airline hubs, receive a majority of the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) funds and resources. At these airports, GA accounts for only six percent of total operations.
General aviation contributed over $800 million in trust fund taxes in 2006 even though our operations are marginal at the busiest airports. For example, at John F. Kennedy, Newark, and LaGuardia airports where four out of ten flights are delayed, GA represents only 2.6 percent of all flights. The IPS/EA study itself acknowledges (p. 21), “Increased Flight Delays: Corporate Jets Not Primary Cause,” yet curiously, it places this section under the overall heading of “The Cost to Other Travelers.”
The general aviation industry currently pays its fair share of the costs of the air traffic control system through hefty fuel taxes imposed on piston fuel called AvGas and turbine jet fuel. In an effort to speed the modernization of the antiquated ATC system in the U.S., the general aviation industry has expressed to Congress its willingness to pay an even higher fuel tax. This commitment to "pony up for modernization" was made despite the fact that the airlines refuse to pay any more taxes to improve the current ATC system. GA industry support has been nearly universal for the current FAA reauthorization proposal in the House and the Senate that would increase general aviation’s contribution by over 36 percent, or an additional $290 million, while the airlines will contribute no additional new money.
The report also claims, among many other charges, that “small planes are by far the most polluting method of transportation.” The IPS/EA report here stretches the truth far beyond credibility. General aviation is, and has been, an integral part of our nation’s transportation system and economy since the early part of the 20th century, and it provides the only air service to nearly 5,000 communities in the United States. It does this while contributing less than two-tenths of one percent of overall greenhouse gas emissions, notwithstanding IPS/EA's facile and misleading comparisons with hybrid cars and transcontinental trips. Furthermore, the general aviation industry is investing heavily in technology to further mitigate its relatively small contribution to greenhouse gas emissions. Improved aerodynamic designs, more use of lightweight composites, improved engines and avionics all contribute to improve upon this industry's powerful record of technological advancements, which resulted in a 50 percent improvement in specific fuel consumption (and thus emissions) for business jet engines since they were first introduced during the 1960s.