Corporate jets account for 16 per cent of costs, but pay only 3 per cent: FAA

The $64-billion question is, who will pay the cost of upgrading the USA's aged aviation infrastructure. There are no real answers yet, but the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) is now drawing attention to how corporate jets pay disproportionately lower taxes compared to commercial airliners.

In her testimony before the Senate Committee on Finance, on the issue of financing the next generation air transportation system, departing FAA Administrator Marion C Blakey explained how a commercial airline's Boeing 767 pays $3,600 in taxes, while a corporate Gulfstream business jet pays just $300. In terms of aviation services, though, both cost the FAA around the same amount.

There's no gainsaying the figures, except that the corporate jet manufacturing lobby points out that while the commercial airline operating the 767 has the benefit of being able to levy taxes from all its passengers, the Gulfstream only has eight to 12 seats.

Airline officials reply that it is true, but that each seat in a corporate jet has completely unnecessary levels of luxury, and that the corporation operating the jet, too, has the option of recovering the tax, albeit indirectly, from its customers.