October 08, 2012
Credit: Credit: Hawker Beechcraft
Kerry Lynch Washington
Business and general aviation leaders are relatively quiet when asked about the U.S. presidential elections, saying both candidates face stark budget choices regardless of who is voted in this November. From an industry standpoint, the worries are less about who wins and more about the tough decisions that will need to be made following the elections.
And while President Barack Obama has had an uneven track record with the industry during his first four years, Mitt Romney has virtually none. Both leave questions about the direction they would take entering 2013.
Speeches early in Obama's term linking corporate jet travel to excess led to pleas from labor, local officials and business and general aviation (GA) industry leaders for the president to tone down the negative rhetoric. Those pleas surfaced again after Obama's June 29, 2011, briefing, when he mentioned millionaires, billionaires and corporate jet owners six times.
“We have certainly seen that President Obama has a blind spot when it comes to the tremendous manufacturing impact general and business aviation brings to our country,” says General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) President/CEO Pete Bunce.
GAMA and the other GA groups waged a public relations campaign to improve the industry's image. The various groups agree that rhetoric likening business jets to toys for CEOs had quieted until last week's presidential debate, during which the president reiterated past views and opened old wounds. Eric Byer, vice president of government and industry affairs for the National Air Transportation Association says “Any president should recognize the value of general aviation to the community.”
In fact, in an Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association's Government Affairs survey printed in AOPA Pilot magazine, Obama touts the importance of the industry. He calls the strength of the GA industry “a critical piece” of economic growth and competitiveness.
On issues, Obama has offered controversial proposals such as the $100-per-flight user fee and an extension of depreciation schedules for business aircraft. At the same time, though, he has backed measures strongly supported by industry, including short-term 100% “bonus” depreciation schedules, increased NextGen funding and a more collaborative approach to GA security.