May 14, 2007

GLOBAL WARMING UPDATE: If we’re going to listen to all these rich people on the subject of global warming, surely we should at least end the subsidies for corporate jets. But noooo, they’re complaining. . . .

U.S. airlines, which already share the sky with corporate jets, are pushing to share their tax burden too.

President George W. Bush is proposing to cut the amount passenger carriers such as American Airlines and Continental Airlines pay in federal taxes each year by $1.68 billion. Most of that obligation would be shifted to small-jet operators, including General Motors Corp., Exxon Mobil Corp. and NetJets Inc., the business-jet charter company owned by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. . . .

Should Bush’s proposal become law, the impact on owners and operators of the small jets “is going to be significant,” says Ed Bolen, whose Washington-based National Business Aviation Association trade group represents more than 8,000 companies including NetJets, GM and Exxon Mobil.

Given the much greater greenhouse impact of these private jets as compared to flying commercial, that seems appropriate. In fact, I’d say that ending this subsidy is only the beginning. If you’re worried about global warming, and want the rich to do their fair share in fighting it, call your Senators and Representative.

And congratulate the Bush Administration on its pro-environment policies!

UPDATE: The Daily Aviator says I’m wrong: “Reynolds is a sharp guy, but he obviously hasn’t spent any time researching the issue, or he would know that this is actually a set up for the takeover of the public’s airways by a private company. I suspect he’s been the recipient of political insider distributions urging his post today.”

Nope, unless seeing the link on Drudge counts as an “insider” distribution. And reader Joe Hosteny sends a lengthy rebuttal that’s worth your time. Click “read more” to read it. Here’s the beginning:

While I applaud the fact that you bring attention to the hypocrisy that frequently surrounds the use of corporate jets, I think you should look a little more into the proposed increase in fees for private aircraft before you advocate them so willingly.

First of all, the airlines are using these fees to fight the onset of air taxi services, and lower cost charters. It really has nothing to do with “sharing” costs as they suggest. They simply want to put stop these nascent businesses from taking hold.

That’s a good point. I think that air taxis services and lower cost charters should be treated more favorably than corporate or private luxury jets, as they have economic incentives to keep load factors — and hence efficiencies — high. And they offer other benefits, as well, something I explored in this column last year. Maybe we need a special “greenhouse” excise tax on corporate and luxury jets instead!

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