U.S. business aviation leader speaks out over user fees
Sept. 12, 2012, Washington, D.C. - The owner of a renowned flight-instruction company today told a Congressional committee that President Obama’s proposed $100 per-flight user fee “is a bad idea” that will harm thousands of businesses like hers.
Martha King, the co-founder of King Schools, shared her perspectives in testimony before the U.S. House Committee on Small Business, on behalf of the National Business Aviation Association’s (NBAA’s) 9,000 member companies.
The committee held the hearing to explore the financial and regulatory impact that per-flight user fees, like those proposed by Obama, would have on the aviation industry, including on private-sector job creation. The hearing was called by committee Chairman Rep. Sam Graves (R-6-MO), who also serves as co-chair of the House General Aviation Caucus.
“We are counting on you to spread the word,” King told members of Congress, “per-flight fees destroy.” King went on to underscore the general aviation community’s long-held position that the “pay-at-the-pump” fuel tax is most efficient, least burdensome way for the general aviation community, which includes companies of all sizes that use an airplane for business, to help pay for operation of the nation’s air transportation system.
King, who with her husband John King, founded their flight-training company out of their home in southern California nearly 40 years ago, said their business was able to grow over the years thanks to the productivity and efficiency that has come from using an airplane in support of their business.
She reminded policymakers that the vast majority of companies in business aviation are small to mid-size businesses like hers, and that many of the planes used for business are flown to airports with little or no scheduled airline service, which means that business aviation is also a valued lifeline to many American communities.
“As you know, general aviation is one of our nation’s most significant industries,” she told committee members, noting that in recent years, the economic recession has taken a heavy toll on general aviation. “While things have stabilized somewhat, we have yet to approach anything near our 2007 or 2008 levels. King Schools has not been spared from the impact,” she said, reporting that her company, which had 70 employees in 2007, had reduced in size to 50 employees in 2012.
“It is difficult to imagine how, at a time when a critical American industry is struggling the way general aviation is, people in Washington could be contemplating an onerous, regressive and administratively burdensome new, per-flight tax euphemistically called a ‘user fee,’” she said.
King was joined in testifying at today’s hearing by two other representatives from the industry: Marian Epps, CFO of Epps Aviation in Atlanta, GA, who testified on behalf of the National Air Transportation Association; and Brad Pierce, president of Restaurant Equipment World in Orlando, FL, who testified on behalf of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association.