User Fees are the next step in privatizing ATC.
The first step was removing the "inherently governmental function" status from ATC.
The second step was the nontract with it's B-scale pay system. The FAA planned to bargain in bad faith so that contract talks would go to impasse. Title 49 allowed the last best offer from FAA to go Congress to act upon it within 60 days. Congress did nothing, just as FAA planned, and then we get the nontract.
NATCA has been saying for the past several years that a looming staffing crisis was imminent. The FAA is also capable of adding 1981 + 25 (years of service until retirement eligibility.) They said they had a plan. So why haven't they been hiring the past few years on a large scale? It takes 2-4 years to become a controller. The plan was to impose a B-scale pay system. Notice how the hiring push has increased since September when the work rules were imposed.
Now they are pushing all the high-paid help out with miserable working conditions. Slimming things down for all of the ex-FAA big-wigs that work for Boeing Air Traffic Management, Lockheed Martin, and the airlines to take over the ATC system.
They will attempt to appeal to the masses saying that those rich fatcats flying around in jets are misusing your tax dollars. Or those flying hobbyists are getting over on the public. http://biz.yahoo.com/ap/070415/ticket_taxes.html?.v=10
They fail to mention the vital role that general aviation plays in our economy.
Do you really think that the airlines will lower fares if user fees are enacted? I don't.
The majority of costs within the ATC system are due to the airline's hub system. Here is a quote from the article I noted above. Travelers deal with more hassles than ever. In 2006, more passengers were bumped, their flights delayed or their bags lost than in 2005, according to the annual Airline Quality Rating report released earlier this month.
That statement is meant to get you to say, "Yeah, that's right." OK, who bumps passengers? GA?, Fatcats in Gulfstreams? No. Airlines.
Why are flights delayed? GA?, Fatcats? No. Weather and scheduling too many aircraft to land at one time causes delays. The current ATC system is more than adequate at delivering large numbers of airplanes to big airports. The problem is, and anyone who has driven into a big city or construction area knows, things have to slow down at the concentration point. Runways are the concentration points in this analogy. We don't have enough of them in many of the big cities. Many of the airports in these cities were not designed for 21st century traffic levels. Satellites and all this other fancy stuff in Nexgen are cool, but it's all about the concrete.
The last point from the quote was that lost baggage was up. I wouldn't be surprised if the FAA will have us smashing bags soon. But we don't right now. The airlines are losing your bags.
How about the airlines as a business example. Even with huge government susidies they are filing for bankruptcy at alarming rates. I don't want these guys running ATC. When they start losing money, they will cut back even more on GA services. Check out the Euro-Fees Fears video at AOPA http://www.aopa.org/
AOPA isn't right all the time either. They were wrong about supporting the privatization of FSS. But they are right on with the user fee issue.