Release No. AOC 05-07
February 14, 2007
Contact: Melanie Alvord or Laura Brown
Phone: (202) 267-3883
WASHINGTON — The Bush Administration sent legislation to Congress that will reduce aviation congestion, improve passenger airline travel, and cut down on noise for communities near major airports, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Administrator Marion Blakey announced today.
The proposed legislation, called the Next Generation Air Transportation System Financing Reform Act of 2007, would replace the decades-old system of collecting ticket taxes with a cost-based, stable and reliable funding program that relies on a combination of user-fees, taxes and a federal government contribution to support the development of a new, satellite-based, air traffic control system, called NextGen.
“This new proposal will make flying more convenient for millions of travelers,” said Secretary of Transportation Mary Peters. “Anyone who has experienced the frustration and inconvenience of a delayed flight should take a very close look at what we’re proposing.”
The new, more precise, air traffic control system will take full advantage of the latest satellite-based technologies, allowing the FAA to handle more aircraft, maintain high levels of safety, reduce flight delays, and cut noise near airports, Administrator Blakey noted. The new system is essential if the agency is to keep pace with growing demand for passenger and cargo flights that will lead to between 2 and 3 times more air traffic by 2025, she added.
The bill will eliminate the domestic passenger ticket tax and reduce the international arrival and departure tax by 50 percent, reducing the overall burden to both the airlines and the traveling public. It will generate revenues based on the costs that users impose on the air traffic system, whether they are commercial, business or general aviation users.
“Our proposal will make it easier for airports, airlines and controllers to keep pace with the skyrocketing demand for air travel this nation is going to experience over the coming decades,” said Administrator Blakey. “With over a billion passengers expected in the air by 2015, we have to act now or risk gridlock in our skies and on our taxiways.”
The legislation also provides limited new borrowing authority that can be used by the FAA to support the construction of new runways, airport terminals and air traffic control facilities and equipment. It also calls for the establishment of a new advisory board that will give members of the aviation community a stronger say in how federal funds are invested in aviation, while maintaining strong congressional and public oversight in recognition of the importance of aviation to the nation.
The legislative proposal makes several changes designed to improve the ability of airports to meet capital needs and proposes to reform the Passenger Facility Charge Program to enable large and medium sized airports to raise local funds for vital construction projects. It also will restructure the Airport Improvement Program by better targeting Federal funds. And the bill funds research into new engine and airframe technology that will reduce aircraft noise and engine emissions.
Administrator Blakey said she would work closely with the Congress to encourage swift action on the legislative proposal, noting that the expiration on September 30, 2007 of the funding authorization for the FAA’s current programs and the existing taxes that fund the Airport and Airway Trust Fund provide a unique opportunity to create a system that better serves travelers.