The debate over hot air is heating up.

September 14, 2010 at 2:50 pm Leave a comment

I woke up the other day, dazed and confused after a night of TV where there was more action on the Jersey Shore (if you missed it, JWoww and Sammi had an action packed cat fight) than there was in the opening night NFL game between the Saints and Vikings. But, I snapped back to it the next morning after reading the article about the cost of the EU’s greenhouse gas rules on the airline industry. If case you missed this one, the new rules which go into effect in 2012, figure to add about $3B in annual costs to the U.S. airlines alone.  So for those of you managing a travel program, you might want to store that little tidbit in your file for when the 2012 budgeting season comes around because you know where the $3B will come from.

Also in the news that day was word that the aviation industry wants to get a slice of President Obama’s proposed $50B “infrastructure” stimulus package. I’m not sure where the $50B is coming from, but since government is pretty much funded by tax revenues, I’m pretty sure it will be the taxpayer, either corporate, individual or both, that ultimately foots this bill. Or, maybe not. Maybe it will come in the form of a new tax that is added to the price of an airline ticket. That seems logical, because after all, it seems reasonable to have those who benefit most from the infrastructure improvement share in the costs.

Perhaps the best way to raise the $50B is to create something called the “Federal Passenger Facility Charge” and to levy a fee of say $4.50 for every emplaned passenger at commercial airports controlled by public agencies. Then, we could take those funds and pour them into FAA approved projects that enhance safety, security, or capacity, or to help reduce noise. Sounds like a great idea, right? Some say it was back in 2000 when it was first introduced. And, for the last 10 years, those of us who travel have paid. I don’t know how much we all paid but according to government statistics, there were a total of 741,400,000 scheduled emplanements on US carriers in 2008, and I’m not sure how many were charged a PFC, but even if 20% paid the $4.50, Mike’s trusty Bud Light calculator would run out of digits trying to add it all up.

I’m sure there will be something different about the FPFC’s and the new proposal, and I am equally sure that when all is said and done, the cost of doing business will simply rise so all of this can be paid for. Observing this makes me recall the famous quote by President Ronald Reagan who once uttered that the nine scariest words in the English language were, “I’m from the government, and I’m here to help.” We can all hope and dream that this time it will be different. Speaking of dreaming, it’s always nice to close with the obligatory Susan Boyle reference, so feel free to hit the link and enjoy her rendition of “I Dreamed a Dream.”

Entry filed under: Business Travel, Tony's thoughts. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

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