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NBAA fires back on report pushing for private plane owners to pay billions more in taxes

After a left-leaning think tank published a report last week, critical of the use of private jets and calling for new rounds of taxation and transparency, the NBAA has fired back, claiming that the Institute for Policy Studies should have been more inclusive in its own reporting. A champion of gender and civil rights in its early years of the 1960s and '70s, the IPS became a frequent target of then-President Ronald Reagan and conservative media in the 1980s as its focus shifted to issues regarding international business and the environment. The IPS report, entitled High Flyers 2023, states that other countries are considering new taxes on emissions, short flights and aircraft sales, and it calls on American officials to do the same. It frequently uses Elon Musk in its examples as a personification of a business aircraft user. "This expensive, carbon-intensive form of travel is bad for both the earth and the taxpayers who subsidize it for the ultra-rich," the IPS report states. "Private jet excess has finally come onto the public and political radar, thanks to reporting from groups like Oxfam on the carbon footprint of the billionaire class, as well as online journalism tracking the flight habits of the extremely rich." The NBAA called the report "deeply flawed," questioning whether it is a legitimate study and noting the efforts within the business aviation industry to create a softer environmental impact through collaboration and innovation. "Independent studies have repeatedly concluded that 85% of companies relying on an airplane to meet their transportation challenges are small and mid-size enterprises," the NBAA's response states. "The passengers aboard a business airplane are typically technicians, mid-level managers and customers, not C-suite executives. Eighty percent of business flights are to and from small towns and communities with little or no airline service." The IPS report mentions the NBAA directly, stating that the association has spent an average of $2.4 million yearly since 2008 on federal lobbying efforts "primarily for tax giveaways." It claims that private jets account for about 16% of flights handled by the FAA but that those flights pay 2% of the taxes that make up the bulk of FAA funding. "Thousands of municipal airports in the U.S. are funded by the public, but many primarily serve private and corporate jets," the IPS report states. The NBAA challenges the group's "caricature about business aviation" by accounting for flights that provide humanitarian missions, ensure the country's infrastructure and supply jobs. The rebuttal then highlights efforts within business aviation that historically have made commercial flights safer and more efficient and that continue today. "Perhaps the report's most glaring factual omission involves business aviation's legacy of achievements in sustainable flight, which have been adopted across the industry," the NBAA response states. "Simply put, business aviation has been a test bed for technologies that reduce the sector's carbon footprint, and pave the way for realizing the established goal of achieving net-zero emissions from business aircraft by 2050."RELATED STORIES:Amsterdam Schiphol Airport pushing for ban on private jets and curfew 16 protests across 11 countries took place at airports, demanding the ban of all private jetsJETNET's Vincent: 'Europe is the crux of the future of our industry' The IPS report mentions that SAF has "a role to play in reducing aviation emissions," but it contends, "they should not be considered a panacea by the private jet industry." Meanwhile, the NBAA maintains that aircraft today operate as much as 30% more efficiently than the aircraft they replace thanks to technologies developed by business aviation, including lightweight composites, winglets, satellite-based avionics "and a host of other carbon-cutting technologies." Among a number of new taxes and regulations that the IPS recommends: A 10% sales tax on pre-owned aircraft and a 5% tax on new aircraft, which would have yieled $2.6 based on 2022 numbers. Doubling the federal jet fuel tax to 43.8 cents per gallon. Mandating a "short hop surcharge" on any business jet flight shorter than 210 milesThe creation of a "sustainable transportation equity trust fund" to improve light rail, city-to-city rail, cycle tracks and bike lanes Giving TSA greater oversight of private jets Eliminating the ownership of jets by "anonymous trusts and other entities" The NBAA responded that shifting the economic cost burden further onto private aircraft operators while the economic weight of the nation's aviation system is "largely driven by the operations of commercial airlines, given the scale and complexity of the carriers' hub-and-spoke operations." "Unsurprisingly, the report provides none of this information, instead falling back on the tired practice of disparaging an entire industry to sound a predictable call for a raft of punitive taxes, fees and regulations disguised as ‘proposals,'" the NBAA rebuttal concludes. "Rather than being distracted by the overheated rhetoric the report offers in support of this agenda, NBAA urges an honest discussion of business aviation's societal benefits and environmental leadership."Read the complete Institute for Policy Studies report here Read the complete NBAA response here
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