Opinion

Baker among 21 mayors to recognize value of general aviation

President Barack Obama visits with Kenmore Mayor David Baker at the White House in 2011. - contributed photo
President Barack Obama visits with Kenmore Mayor David Baker at the White House in 2011.
— image credit: contributed photo

The Alliance for Aviation Across America announced that mayors from 21 communities across Washington, including David Baker of Kenmore, have joined town and city officials from around the country in recognizing the critical importance of general aviation to towns and communities.

The petition specifically cites the harm of negative rhetoric and increased taxes on businesses, farms and non-profit organizations that depend on general aviation, and highlights the struggle that the industry has faced. In Washington, general aviation contributes more than $3.18 billion to the economy every year and supports 7,615 jobs.

Dear Mr. President:

We write to express our deep concern that your comments about general aviation in recent weeks and months have not only mischaracterized these aircraft and their crucial importance for our economy, but have suggested that the businesses and communities that depend on this form of transportation can afford an increased tax burden for general aviation operators. On behalf of over 100 communities in 48 states, we write to let you know that for thousands of towns and communities like ours around the country, general aviation is a vital part of our economy and national infrastructure, and we are extremely concerned about the repercussions of your statements on this important lifeline to communities around the nation.

General aviation supports 1.2 million American jobs, over $150 billion in economic impact annually, and is a vital economic engine for our national economy. However, it is also a struggling industry. There has been a 15.5 percent drop in general aviation aircraft shipments, and billings for general aviation have dropped 22.3 percent. Since 2008, manufacturers have also laid off roughly 20,000 workers, which is additionally concerning given that the general aviation industry remains one of the only sectors in U.S. manufacturing that still contributes positively to the balance of trade.

In addition, general aviation aircraft and the airports they utilize are a literal lifeline to our communities, providing access for business growth, law enforcement, disaster relief, medical care and other services. They are utilized to help transport blood and organs to residents in rural communities, reunite veterans back from overseas with their families, and help our companies to reach customers in markets that otherwise could not be reached.

As you know well, the vast majority of businesses and organizations that own and utilize general aviation are not wealthy CEOs. Rather, 85 percent are small to mid-sized businesses and organizations that rely on these aircraft to reach far-off plants and customers, serve rural markets without access to commercial aviation, or deliver medical care and other services. We can tell you firsthand that these aircraft are a crucial tool and resource for businesses in our communities; businesses that keep our communities afloat and help workers to be able to continue to put food on their table for their families.

Also concerning to us is the recent discussion of new “user fee” taxes on general aviation aircraft operators. These taxes would mean not only an additional tax burden, but a huge administrative burden on businesses, farms and organizations that use general aviation and that would have to literally keep track of invoices for fees for thousands of take-offs and landings. In addition, at a time when our government is supposed to be finding ways to reduce government spending, we do not understand why some in Congress seek to create huge, new bureaucracy within the FAA to administer these new taxes.

At such a vulnerable time for our economy, we need to be doing everything we can to support jobs and help to stimulate our economy, not crippling an important industry which represents a lifeline to communities such as ours around the nation. We stand ready to work with you on this and all issues related to local communities around the nation.

Sincerely,

Mayor Barbara Tolbert – Arlington, WA

Mayor Robert Goedde – Chelan, WA

Mayor Lee Webster – Brewster, WA

Mayor Patty Lent – Bremerton, WA

Mayor Chuck Spieth – Oroville, WA

Mayor Bill Simpson – Aberdeen, WA

Mayor Patrick D. Rushing – Airway Heights, WA

Mayor Doug Plinski – Odessa, WA

Mayor Ken Estes – Montesano, WA

Mayor Lisa Walters – Battle Ground, WA

Mayor Patrick Plumb – Tonasket, WA

Mayor Glenn A. Johnson – Pullman, WA

Mayor Bill Ecret – Moses Lake, WA

Mayor Peter B. Lewis – Auburn, WA

Mayor Vikki Bonfield – Asotin, WA

Mayor Neil Johnson, Jr. – Bonney Lake, WA

Mayor Rebecca Olness – Black Diamond, WA

Mayor Marilynn Lynn – Bridgeport, WA

Mayor Randall Crowner – Albion, WA

Mayor Jack Durney – Hoquiam, WA

Mayor David Baker, PhD – Kenmore, WA

 

To view the Mayors’ petition, click here.

 

Formed in 2007, the Alliance for Aviation Across America is a non-profit, non-partisan coalition of over 6,000 individuals representing businesses, agricultural groups, FBO's, small airports, elected officials, charitable organizations, and leading business and aviation groups that support the interest of the general aviation community across various public policy issues.

 

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