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Wednesday, August 05, 2015

User Fees for GA Flights to Caribbean

Caribbean Flying Adventures Press Release

"FAA Hitting GA with “User Fees” for Caribbean Flights"

Caribbean Flying Adventures has successfully advocated for GA pilots for years on the issue of FAA “user fees” fees in the Caribbean.  Recent FAA fee increases, however, have resulted in “new” fees for potentially thousands of private and charter flights.  A recent example was a $274 invoice for a roundtrip from Miami to the Dominican Republic!  And these ATC fees are about to be increased again!

The FAA collects $millions from European trans-Atlantic flights to the Islands for ATC services.  The U.S. controls most of the airspace between Miami and St Kitts.  If you depart from a U.S. airport or land at a U.S. airport, fees do not apply.  If you depart from a non-U.S. airport, in the Bahamas for example, and fly to a non-U.S. airport such as Turks and Caicos, fees apply.  FlightAware can track your flights but apparently the FAA cannot.  FAA says they are unable to automatically determine that you departed Miami in the morning and made in technical fuel in the Bahamas enroute to the DR.  So bingo, you receive a $274 invoice for ATC services even hough you departed from a U.S. airport!  Prior to the fee increases, a roundtrip in one month generated fees less than $250.  FAA did not send out invoices for less than $250.  Small private aircraft only received invoices when they made two roundtrips in a single month, which was an extremely rare occurrence.

With the recent substantial fee increases, one low mileage roundtrip in one month is now generating invoices because the $250 "threshold" was not increased in parallel with the fee increase. Failure to increase the threshold level was clearly a bureaucratic oversight.  However, FAA is refusing to take administrative action well within their authority to increase the threshold level.  Canceling invoices which should never have been issued in the first place is now becoming a major burden for GA pilots and the FAA as well.   Recently, Caribbean Flying Adventures helped many pilots reverse these charges.

However, those pilots who overnight in the Bahamas before flying to the Turks and Caicos or the Dominican Republic or further down the island chain are now stuck with what are essentially “new” ATC fees!  Your little C172 is now paying the same fees as a B747 with 467 seats!  Is that what congress really intended?  Common sense would suggest "no."

Caribbean Flying Adventures has been in touch with the FAA office responsible for these fees and is facing a stone wall.  They are refusing to increase the threshold level, exposing potentially thousands of pilots to unwarranted user fees, most of which should not be charged in the first place because of technical, same day fuel stops.

Caribbean Flying Adventures needs your help to determine how many pilots have been hit with these new user fees. If you have received an invoice from FAA Oklahoma City for ATC services in the Bahamas and Caribbean, send me copy so we can get a sense of how widespread this problem is?  Do not pay.  I will try and get the charges reversed.

We can then approach our congressional representatives for a fix.  Surely, our family owned four and six seat aircraft should not be paying the same fees as the jumbo jets coming from Europe!

We're not a book, so call or email anytime with questions, or just to chat about Island Flying.


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