Big Airlines Think Little Jets Should Pay More

Commercial Airlines all agree one thing. They say that corporate jets don’t pay enough in landing fees and are a major reason why airports are so congested and it takes so long to get access to a runway.

They are waging a war against business aviation, and they’ve enlisted a fictional character with a beehive wig named Edna to use in their ads. An article in the NY Times over the weekend described the plan and their objectives.

“Through Edna, the commercial airline industry says Congress must ensure five things before it reauthorizes funding for the Federal Aviation Administration. Three involve modernizing technology to reduce delays, addressing fuel costs and maintaining safety standards.

But two seem directly aimed at public perceptions of corporate aviation: “Stop unfair financial burdens on passengers” — “All those taxes and fees,” as Edna grumbles — and, “Require corporate jets to pay their fair share.”

Business aviation has been booming as airlines scramble for survival. Business jet deliveries set a record in 2007, and they were up 41 percent in the first quarter this year over the same period last year.” But the business jet owners are fighting back.

“The airlines wrongly view us as competitors, and the airlines’ response to competition is to try to kill it,” said Edward M. Bolen, the president of the National Business Aviation Association. Most business aircraft users, including those flying on the roughly 10,000 business jets operating in the United States, also routinely fly commercial when that is a better option, Mr. Bolen said.

The intensifying public relations battle for the skies shouldn’t be portrayed as a standoff between us and them, he says. “Our member companies spend about $12 billion a year on commercial airline tickets,” he said.