If you are enrolled in a frequent flyer program with one of the country’s largest air carriers then you may have received an email asking for your help to convince Congress that private aircraft owners should pay more to help modernize an outdated air traffic control system.
I happen to be enrolled in several frequent flyer programs and have already received a note encouraging me to pen a letter to my congressional representative and demand that private aircraft owners dig deep to help pay for a new air traffic control system.
If you haven’t received an email from a major airline yet don’t think they aren’t trying to target you. Many U.S. carriers are trying to gain support through features in airline magazine commentaries and in-flight videos. In fact, Delta Air Lines announced it would show a short animated video on flights beginning September 1st. The video blames air congestion (which begets delays) on increased flying by corporate jets and small planes and suggests operators and owners of those aircraft aren’t paying their fair share for a new air-traffic control system. If you don’t fly Delta you would still be subject to viewing the video as it is part of a national campaign and is also being aired on CNN’s Airport Network at Washington, D.C. airports.
Meanwhile, the general aviation industry is vigorously opposing the attack. A trade group that represents private airplane owners disputes the airlines claims that non-commercial aircraft clutter the skies. The group maintains that bad weather and carrier flight overbooking are the main causes for delays.
To get their message out they too are publishing magazine commentaries and developing television commercials to appear on CNN’s Airport Network. Working in their favor is the fact that the group includes 413,000 registered members who are adamant that the airlines are spreading propaganda and looking for tax breaks.
By the way, Delta is now reporting that of last week its’ August 1 e-mail to frequent fliers generated 19,000 form e-mails to their congressional representatives in support of the airline’s objectives.
If you deleted the letter basically you missed reading about the proposed new satellite-based traffic control system (the Federal Aviation Administration claims it could handle up to three times current air traffic levels, but could cost between $15 billion to $22 billion and take nearly 20 years to build) and the Senate bill that would shift more of the financial burden to owners and operators of small planes and corporate jets. The airline industry argues that it currently pays 95% of taxes that fund air-traffic control systems, but accounts for 75% of operating costs.
Did you get the email? Where do you stand? Would you be willing to pen a letter to your local lawmaker based on the airlines claims or do you tend to side with the general aviation group?