Proposed federal airplane usage tax could impact local aviation - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Proposed federal airplane usage tax could impact local general aviation

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CARLYSS, LA (KPLC) -

At Southland Field Executive Airport south of Sulphur, general aviation thrives.  

"People can afford smaller airplanes to use for business or for personal use," said Tim Lafleur, Director at Southland.  

Governor Bobby Jindal declared March as General Aviation month, recognizing the importance general aviation has throughout the state. 

"We have 69 airports in the state of Louisiana," Lafleur said. "The state helps out on all of the airports financially and in helping run the airports through legal matters."

One point of contention between pilots and flight enthusiasts alike is a federally proposed airplane usage tax.

"That would constitute paying a $100 fee for every landing and takeoff in a controlled airspace, and a controlled airspace is one that has airport controlled towers," Lafleur said.

The tax would be exempt at airports like Southland, since it doesn't use a controlled tower, but Lafleur says the existence of such a tax could have other effects on his airport.   

"It comes into a safety hazard. We'll probably have more people coming into our airport here, because it'd be an uncontrolled airspace. However, it's a safety issue: you'll have less people utilizing the separation services from air traffic control, because that fee that would be imposed," Lafleur explained.

The tax has been proposed in presidential budget's for years but continues to be struck down by Congress. Still, Lafleur says it's important to speak up and speak out.   

"If we didn't defend it or oppose it, then it would probably give them more ammunition to pass it through without any opposition," Lafleur said. "So, as long as we can keep showing our alliance to oppose the tax then Congress keeps hearing us and showing that we don't need that tax, so they won't pass it". 

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