Well, it’s been one year since I took over the helm at the National Air Transportation Association and I thought it was a good time to update our members on where we’ve come and where we’re headed!
In the past year, we have made many positive changes toward making our organization more responsive to the needs of our members. We brought in top-notch leadership with Jim Coon from the Hill and John McGraw from FAA, reorganized and consolidated our committees under the watchful eye of Amy Koranda, and began implementing a new strategic plan. We are offering new membership benefits as well as bolstering our safety programs.
I have also spent a lot of time on the road, updating our members in Van Nuys, talking air safety in Moline, strategizing with industry leaders in OshKosh, and attending the Tarkio airshow. I was able to meet many of you during my travels and participate in a number of lively town halls at airports around the country. Visits like these are invaluable and enable me to learn firsthand what’s on your mind.
We continue to work hard taking your aviation industry concerns straight to the decision makers on Capitol Hill. And we are tackling a number of issues that affect our member businesses – airport and land use, security, taxation, aircraft noise and emissions, and other priorities that arise – both at the federal and state level.
The federal excise tax issue is one area where we have made considerable progress. We are working closely with the IRS to address new interpretations of tax laws that are detrimental to air charter and aircraft management businesses. FETs are now on the IRS Guidance Priorities List, which will enable government officials to move more quickly in resolving this matter.
NATA continues to oppose the $100 departure fee on certain segments of aviation. And we will continue to sound the alarm about a looming pilot shortage across the entire industry. One of our top priorities is to do all we can to attract, train and retain the next generation of aviation professionals to the profession that we all love.
Looking ahead, we are closely watching Congress. It is our hope that the House and Senate will soon pass a continuing resolution to fund the federal government beyond the fiscal year, which ends on September 30. Beyond that is sequestration. Earlier this year, NATA helped to lead a strong grassroots effort to keep open 149 contract towers that were slated to close as part of the Federal Aviation Administration’s sequestration plans. Congress passed legislation that allowed the agency to move funds to keep the towers open until the end of the fiscal year. But sequestration will last another nine years unless Congress and the Administration reach an alternative budget agreement. It doesn’t look like this will be resolved any time soon.
You can rest assured that NATA will continue to work with our contacts in other aviation associations and on Capitol Hill to find a more permanent solution to this problem.
Of course to some of you, what goes on at the federal level isn’t your biggest concern. That is why we continue to work with our partners in the State Advocacy Network to address burdensome regulations and legislation at the state and local level that affect your bottom line.
While we make changes to provide better service to our members, some things will never change. NATA will continue to make safety our top priority. We have updated our successful Safety 1st program, and have launched the Supervisor Online Training as well as our online Aircraft Flight Coordinator Training.
As we move forward, NATA will do whatever we can to help shape policies and legislation that safeguard our members’ ability to win in the marketplace and we will educate local, state, and federal elected officials about the vital role aviation businesses play in their communities. And above all, we will continue to be the voice of aviation business.
As always, thanks for your steadfast support. I hope to hear from you. Please let us know how we can help!