Aviators battle president's user fee tax proposal

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Wichita, Kan. -- At a time when Wichita's general aviation industry struggles to regain its former altitude, aviators are concerned the Obama administration wants to saddle it with a $100 per flight user fee tax.

Aviation support organizations including the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association are working to keep the user fee from becoming law.

AOPA President Mark Baker speaking at the Wichita Aero Club Tuesday says, "User fees, once again. I don't know if this will ever go away." Baker has seen it come up in previous budgets only to be defeated.

The proposal would levy a $100 fee for each take-off.

Baker asks, "Why do you want to go put more burden on a really distressed industry?"

Baker is concerned another tax will make it even more difficult to get more people interested in general aviation flying.

Aviators ask why fix what they say isn't broken.

Walter Berry, President of Berry Companies and owner of a Cessna Citation Mustang says, "We have a user fee. It's in the fuel prices. It's a system that works well."

The aviation fuel tax supports government aviation programs similar to the gasoline tax motorists pay to help fund highways.

Jeffrey Peier, an attorney with Klenda Austerman, arranges airplane financing for airplane buyers.

Peier says, "I think it would be a big drag on the industry if we had user fees come into play. Much of the cost is built into fuel pricing."

Berry says, "We're paying for the system now and I think that system is working well. And if it's not working then maybe we should be talking about what should be the proper tax per gallon."

Baker believes it will be defeated again saying, "The user fee will be fought back into its proper box, put the lid on it one more time."


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