Government pays air traffic contollers. Why not the airlines, the passengers?

Doesn't this amount to a "handout" for those who fly? People rant and rave about "handouts" to support mass transit but don't see any problem with handouts to support air travel. If mass transit is expected to be self supporting, why aren't we applying the same standard to air travel? The airlines and their passengers should be paying for air traffic control systems, not ordinary taxpayers who seldom fly. Comments?


Thorgirls, if 50 years of govt policy hadn't artificially beefed up air travel and highway while allowing mass transit and rail to die of neglect, the Japanese and Europeans would be admiring our transportation system instead of laughing at us. Prior to WW2, USA had the finest passenger and cargo rail system on Earth. What happened?

Joe, Jeeper: look it up. The cost of maintaining Air Traffic Control FAR EXCEEDS the contributions by passengers and airlines. The shortfall is made up from our federal treasury.

Jim, If we continue to accommodate private autos, to design our system so that cars are cheaper and more convenient than mass transit, then guess what? People will refuse the costly, inconvenient mass transit unless they have no other options. Visit DC or some other city where commuting by auto is costly and inconvenient and you will see plenty of Armani suits and Bally shoes on the buses & trains.

12 Answers

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    And thus falls by the wayside the tired refrain, "Free Market."

    Which hasn't existed in this country since, well - NEVER.

    It really irks me every time I read of the "evils of Socialism" when helping the Average Joe is involved. But never a word is uttered when the taxpayers pay for Big Business.

    It really irks me.


    For the posters who are saying that "we need it for the economy" well then, let the government RUN IT and let the profits be entered into the nation's coffers.

    If private enterprise is making the profits from it, then private enterprise PAYS FOR IT.

    Isn't that the very definition of CAPITALISM?

    You people can't have it both ways.

  • Kevin
    Lv 5
    1 decade ago

    Can't you find another arguement?

    First off, taxes are added to airline tickets and to airlines in the form of landing fees as well as airlines, and private pilots alike in the form of fuel taxes that support the FAA. If you never ride a commercial airliner or buy aviation fuel your money never pays for the air traffic control system. Sure the cost of air traffic control exceedes the amount in taxes paid by airlines and passengers. What you aren't factoring in though is that 98% percent of aviation is NOT commercial in this country. Commercial aviation does not include business aviation or pleasure flying. Let me put this in perspective for you. If you added every single commercial aircraft flying in the US you might, and i mean MIGHT, find a similar number as to how many Cessna 172's alone are flying in this country. One model from one manufacturer. Barely a drop in the bucket as far as the big picture is concerned. If you thought a 747 guzzled fuel, you should see how much more a Citation can drink per seat mile. What you are suggesting is no different than someone saying "Well, gee Camero drivers don't pay for 100% of road upkeep, so we should stop maintaining roads." The Camero is a mere fraction of what is on out roads and there are many cars that drink more gas.

    We have a national rail system and many cities and states have governemnt bus, rail, subway (and if applicable water transport) systems. Those systems also have government regulatory bodies. Aviation only has a regulatory body and rely on private companies to provide transport. If anything the aviation sector is getting shafted on the mass transport level. Out of all major forms of transport, only air transport lacks a government funded company.

    Again you pick on controllers. They provide the same function as traffic lights, police and stop signs collectively do for drivers. They keep airplanes from barreling toward eachother on collision courses and provide assistance to those in distress while ensuring pilots adhere to the FARs. Would you also councel eliminating traffic lights, stop signs and the traffic duties for police officers on behalf of those that do not often drive? The majority of citizens in NYC do not drive on a regular basis. Should the New York City eliminate such waste as traffic signals? Something deep inside me says the logical person would say no. The traffic lights serve a purpose. Without them we'd have increased fatalities on the road.

    One other thing I wonder is if you've ever been to Europe and availed of their mass transit. Have you ever extensively traveled there to get a grasp on just how small those nations are in comparison and the relatively high cost? I have. I've spent double what I would have spent on a plane ticket to take twice as long as an airline flight in 4 European countries.

    Europe is small enough that it can be done. I can tolerate and have been on 6hour 350 mile trips. Granted an airline flight would be about an hour from takeoff in transit. I just checked the rail time tables. Know how long it takes to go from NYC to LA via train? 61 hours. I don't know about you but most of this country gets 2 weeks or so vacation time a year. Most people cannot afford to spend one week in transit to and from their vacation destination.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    The control of the skies over the country is a matter of National Security.

    Mass Transit is supported by the Federal Government.

    Mass Transit is essentially free. It will never, ever be self supporting and no one who knows anything about it expects that.

    It actually costs the systems more money to collect fares than not to collect them.

    A typical fare-box on a bus goes for about $22,000.00. That does not include maintenance, soft ware up-dates and replacement costs.

    So, why collect fares? Ridership control.

    Mass transit exists for two reasons.

    1. Traffic relief for large city commuters. It keeps roads passable which is also a matter of national security.

    2. Work fare. It's there to provide transportation for the poor, work fare and the infirmed. It is the only access they have to the economic infrastructure.

    If fares were eliminated, the system would be overwhelmed so that it could not function.

    Enlarging the system would accomplish nothing. There is a large segment of our society that would refuse to use it at any price.

  • 1 decade ago

    Nope, The government imposes frees on airlines, that pay for air traffic controllers and air port expansions.

    They actually only use about 25% of the fees they collect, when they should be using 100%.

  • How do you think about the answers? You can sign in to vote the answer.
  • joe s
    Lv 6
    1 decade ago

    I guess you have never flown, or if you have, you don't pay for the ticket.

    Where do you thing the government gets the money for the ATC system? TAXES. Special taxes tacked on to the price of your ticket. Next time you fly take a look, it's a decent chunk of change. Who pays the tax. The passengers.

  • Well, one reason is the fact that air transportation is critical to the operating infrastructure of our country. Having said that, there should be breaks for local transit systems and high speed rail links.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Some people may not fly often, but I would be willing to bet that they have purchased or received items that have been flown. This country NEEDS to keep the planes flying for economic reasons. I have no problem paying my share of taxes for services that no individual can possibly supply for themselves or their families such as highways, fire departments, police departments etc...

  • Brian
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago

    I'm still trying to figure out who rants and raves about expenditures for mass transit. At the end of the day isn't air travel actually a mass transit? Why should government support bus and subway travel and not air travel? Are you suggesting that we give preferential support to those who ride buses and not to air travelers? That doesn't seem fair........

  • 1 decade ago

    I can see the validity of your question.

    I can agree...passangers should pay for the FAA, not the taxpayers. It is rediculous to bill us for a service that only benefits those that fly in planes.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    i don't fly alot but when i do i am glad that the controllers have strict guidelines to follow.

Still have questions? Get your answers by asking now.