Could Auto Bailout Bill Hurt Aviation?

By Kate Barrett

Dec 11, 2008 5:49pm

ABC News’ Lisa Stark Reports: Even as Congress struggles to agree on a bailout bill to try to save jobs in the automobile industry, another industry is warning the proposals, as written, could hurt their industry.

Supporters of business aviation have written to lawmakers opposing the legislation because it may include a provision that discourages, if not forbids, auto executives from using private planes for business.

The CEOs of General Motors, Chrysler and Ford created a firestorm of anger and controversy when they each flew private company jets to Washington D.C. to plead for a taxpayer bailout. They got the message. For their second trip to Capitol Hill, each drove the 500 miles from Detroit.

The bailout legislation would limit or even forbid car companies from owning or leasing private aircraft.

That doesn’t fly with the business aviation community.

"This provision sets a damaging precedent," said James Coyne, President of the National Air Transportation Association, in a letter to lawmakers. Coyne pointed out that thousands of small businesses provide charter and private aircraft.

"Using legislation intended to save jobs in one sector of the economy to impact jobs negatively in another, equally important sector, is unconscionable," he added.

The National Business Aviation Association has also weighed in. In a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, president and CEO Ed Bolen said the bill "appears to prohibit the use of business aviation in ALL situations, including when it is the sole mode of transportation available to a business, or it is the most prudent and cost-effective solution."

Despite this opposition, lawmakers may be hard pressed to back down, with the image of those auto company corporate jets still fresh in their minds.

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