Roberts defends general aviation industry from user fees

Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) recently urged his fellow elected officials to continue supporting a measure instituted in 2009 that helped save jobs in the general aviation industry.

Roberts said Washington is weighing the possibility of assessing user fees on general aviation that would hurt companies in the field.

“Let me be very clear, if user fees on general aviation are implemented, we could very well see the beginning of the end for this critically important U.S. industry,” Roberts said.

Roberts said the industry’s aircraft are an indispensable asset for a wide range of large and small U.S. businesses. He said that managers, sales personnel and technical experts often must make in-person visits to multiple offices in a relatively short period of time, and many of these offices are in parts of the country that are not served by large airports. Roberts said 90 percent of airports in the United States aren’t accessible by commercial aircraft.

General aviation makes a substantial contribution to the economy. The industry employs more than 1.2 million workers and contributes $150 billion to the U.S. economy each year. In 2012, general aviation delivered 1,334 planes valued at $7.9 billion, with more than half attributed to exports – a number that supports President Barack Obama’s goal of doubling U.S. exports over the next five years.

“Like every other business sector, general aviation has struggled during the recession,” Roberts said. “Unfortunately, this has resulted in layoffs among the many high skilled, high paying jobs in this industry. To help offset these job losses and incentivize the purchase of these aircraft, Democratic members included a provision in the 2009 stimulus bill to accelerate the depreciation schedules for a wide range of capital investments, including general aviation aircraft.”

Roberts said this congressional action had quantifiably positive results – Cessna and its suppliers were able to keep 1,000 jobs that would otherwise have been lost.

“So it comes as a pretty big shock that…Democratic members in both chambers of congress would directly attack this industry with talks of repealing a tax provision that has contributed positively to job creation in a time of severe economic downturn,” Roberts said.