Business Aviation Should be Afraid … Very Afraid

By Robert Mark on October 4th, 2007

News last week from the White House that even George Bush has finally run out of excuses to avoid admitting the U.S. aviation system is in need of serious reform should actually not come as much of a shock.

The Business Travel Coalition’s chairman Kevin Mitchell confirmed the increased drum beat from the White House in both recent testimony before Congress as well as in a Chicago Tribune article. “The summer of 2000 was always considered the summer from hell. But it was nothing like this summer on so many different levels.”

But anyone with a little history here will tell you the White House sticking its nose into any industry is never a good thing, especially an administration that tends to shoot first and ask questions later.

A note that also emerged last week from the Air Transport Association about the administration’s future efforts is what really sent shivers up my spine however. Everyone who operates a business airplane should be worried too.

The ATA news release on September 27th was short and sweet. “ATA appreciates the involvement of the White House and the DOT in what is becoming an increasingly serious national crisis of flight delays.” Speaking to the subject of a planned Aviation Rule Committee (ARC), ATA added that, “we will advocate strongly for measures to maximize capacity to meet consumer demand.”

Since business aviation has been the prime punching bag of the airlines for the past 18 months, I can only believe this means things are going to get even worse. ATA has spent over $11 million in just the first seven months of this year in attacks on business aviation.

We’ve known folks at the FAA level clearly supported the airlines in the past. “They’re joined at the hip in this food fight,” said AOPA’s Phil Boyer. But now the ATA and the White House are cooking something up together. And that can’t be good for any of us who operate airplanes for business I guarantee that, despite the White House occasionally pointing a finger at the airlines.

And This All Means What?

At the NBAA Convention in Atlanta last week, Ed Bolen and AOPA president Phil Boyer were joined by Alliance for Aviation Across America’s executive director Selena Shilad to talk user fees and the future of the industry.

Although many readers might have thought otherwise, the user fee issue has not died by any stretch of the imagination. Bolen said he is “encouraged by progress,” and no more. All three speakers believe the worst is yet to come.

Bolen said the airlines will continue to try and convince their passengers, “They have a dog in this fight. Sure people don’t like the airlines, but the airlines want to take passenger’s eyes off the ball by portraying business aviation as someone they will like even less.”

Shiland reminded people of the power of the pen and that Congress needs to hear from users again, even if they’ve written before. Both the Alliance and the NBAA website offer easy electronic tools to compose and send letters.

No more complaining about what your conservative boss might say  if he knew you were writing letters to Congress. Tell him or her that their airplane might well disappear without your efforts.

We have a couple of different fights on our hands now. Before we were simply arguing with ATA about how to fund the future ATC system, a fee structure that has been reduced in some legislation to as little as $25. Hardly worth worrying about many think.

But the 25 buck fee was never the primary issue.

The money only gets the camel’s nose under the tent and gives them a chance to raise it almost anytime they want, especially if the White House helps the airlines gain what they’re really after … control of the nation’s air traffic system by a board ruled by the airlines.

That’s why Ed Bolen said, “We still have a long way to go. The next 30-90 days could well be critical. The airlines are certainly not going to give up now. They’ll come at us again and do it more and do it better.”

It’s time business and general aviation went on the offensive and tell legislators, “We’re mad as Hell and we’re not going to take it anymore.”

Tell them you don’t want to listen to a White House that already gave the airlines $5 Billion in aid right after 9/11 and $10 Billion in loan guarantees while general and business aviation received nothing … and thrived anyway, I might add.

Tell legislators it’s time to stop funding the airline’s War Risk insurance to the tune of a few hundred million each year.

Enough is enough. They want a fight … it’s time to draw the line in the sand right here and right now.

Kevin Mitchell says, “We’re headed for something much, much worse.” I believe him. Do you?

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One Response to “Business Aviation Should be Afraid … Very Afraid”

  1. julio Says:

    Hi Robert, my name is julio Im from argentina, actualy im doing my Management Engineering thesis, i choose to do aircrafts marketing plan as theme, saddly there is not much info about it here in argentina, so im searching worldwide, if you can help me with this i ll appreciatte it….

    Greetings from mendoza argentina, Julio

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