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The Independent - Smith Challenges Proposed Aviation Fee Hikes

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By Robert Pore

It could literally cost more to fly out of the Central Nebraska Regional Airport or any other airport in the U.S. under a proposal being advanced by President Barack Obama.

According to Rep. Adrian Smith, R-Neb., Obama's budget includes a proposal that would raise fees on aviation by levying as much as a $100 federal surcharge on departing flights and increasing security taxes passengers pay.

Smith, who serves as chairman of the Congressional Rural Caucus and is also a member of the Congressional General Aviation Caucus, has joined a bipartisan group of 195 members of Congress in writing a letter to Obama asking him to abandon a proposal in his recent budget plan which raises fees on commercial and general aviation.

In the letter, Smith and other members of the House said that commercial and general aviation, including aviation manufacturing, are vital industries in the nation, providing millions of jobs and making important contributions to the economy.

"Imposing a $100 per flight fee on commercial and general aviation is the wrong approach, and we respectfully request that you abandon this idea," the letter said.

According to the Obama administration, the increase could bring in up to $7.4 billion over the next 10 years. Another proposal is to increase the security taxes commercial airline passengers pay each way on trips by $7.50. The Obama administration said that would generate another $25.5 billion.

The proposal is coming at a time when aviation fuel prices are increasing, adding to the cost of air travel. The general aviation and commercial airline industries also oppose the flight tax proposals.

"The last thing rural communities need is a tax on general aviation," Smith said. "By making it more expensive to operate in rural areas, consumers will be left with less choice and possibly diminished access to affordable air service."

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